The Hairy Ape

I take for granted my own living body most of the time. Specifically, that it exists, filling up real space in a real world. Most days, it seems easier to stick to “the facts.” I’m “Alex.” I live in “Paonia,” a small town in “Colorado.” I am a “writer.” I am “white.” I am a “man” who “loves” my “husband.” And so I, like most humans, live in a world of layered abstractions.

Take away the distractions of our high-flying egos, elaborate wordplay, and endlessly reproducing screens, however, and we humans are no more or less physical than any other living creature. We are real. We are animals, always. Meeting others. Every day we act and react, want and withdraw, shriek and flail, run and remain.

In my most recent essay for Orion, “8 Meetings Nobody Scheduled,” I’ve curated a short list of moments that have cut through abstraction and left me gasping in shock and surprise at the very real world and my own very physical presence in it.

Despite the tired cliche of the civilized man vs. the wild animal, I declare that to know your wildness is to be more sane. To know your animality is to be more wise. To know you are no more nor less than the other creatures you meet each day is to be more honest, humble, and free.

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One thought on “The Hairy Ape

  1. Great Orion article, Alex. Reminds me when me, Tova and another dog and my 2 horses came face to face with a mountain lion near the ranch I was staying at by the Black Canyon in Crawford. Fortunately the wind was from behind us so only she and I knew about our almost collision. The dogs ignored her (and my yelling “come god damnit come” to them) and the horses were busy paying attention to me making them stop their foxtrotting before we ran smack into her. We all stopped within 35 feet of each other. In our 40 second interaction, I got to see her black whisker pores and watch her dilate her pupils from her spot under a juniper. I suppose she noticed our stinky stew of scents and maybe that my eyebrows were more unkempt than hers. She seemed not affected by our presence. I turned the horses around, got the dogs to go with me and got out of there fast. I took a short cut home adding an additional 5 hours to my ride but I stayed high on whatever ridge I could find and finally came to a dirt road to take back to the ranch. I was proud I didn’t need to change my panties after that one.

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