A Modest Proposal: You Should Get to Be An Animal For Two Weeks Every Year

Hear me out on this one.

Eve Peyser

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The kinkajou | Photo: Rebecca Yale via Getty Images

There’s a scene from the first episode of The Green Planet, David Attenborough’s latest nature series, that I’ve been compulsively watching. He’s telling the viewer how the balsa tree gets the kinkajou, a fruit-eating relative of the raccoon, to pollinate its flowers. “As night falls, the tree prepares an enticing treat,” Attenborough narrates. “Each flower is filled with huge quantities of exceptionally rich nectar, supercharged with sugar. Irresistible. The kinkajous drink so greedily that they get pollen all over their faces.” We see footage of a kinkajou slurping up the sticky liquid with her unusually long tongue. This animal, also known as the honey bear, is having the goddamn time of her life, climbing the branches with expert agility, going from flower to flower, simply delighted by the widespread availability of this delicious balsa juice.

Every time I watch this, I can’t help but feel jealous of the honey bear in the balsa tree. I enjoy food, don’t get me wrong, but I will never enjoy eating something as much as a kinkajou enjoys balsa nectar.

It’s not only the kinkajou I’m jealous of: I watch a program about manta rays, see those flat, elegant fish calmly gliding through the ocean, their weird mouths wide open…

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Eve Peyser

nyc native living in the pnw. read my writing in the new york times, nymag, vice, and more.