a question : written
December 5th, 2023
based on a real story

the other day a friend of mine asked, "what defines human nature?" it was pleasantly sunny for the first time in a week, and we were sitting on a rusty table, trying to stare at the blinding papers before us that tried so hard to reach to the sun and receive its life once more. i didn't quite know how to answer her question, and everyone else around us just laughed it off. it wasn't unknown to me how topics like these have an unspoken taboo against them, but i found no desire to conclude my thoughts about it. the sky is painfully blue, and the wind makes the life in the trees sigh with relief that it may use another day to hold the sun. i can't help but yearn for the same.

she tries asking her question again, but the others say something like "you are just so funny". i've begun to understand that another unspoken ordinance of the human world is that of conformity - you either are, or you are not. the place in which you serve is defined by the viscosity of your soul, and how it may flow through the tiny rods of your interactions. she fits through the rod, and so people expect nothing else of her, and i fear this will leave her with a question unanswered. she walks away. i can't bear to look at the desperate stretches for life the sheets of paper attempts in vain, and i also walk away. i don't intend to follow her, but i do end up meeting her at a group of rabbits. as they flit around the damp and light cobble, their senses twitching to ensure its reaction time will save it from danger, their persistent fighting of the entropies and diseases and laws of the universe is clearly evident in their radiant existence as a living thing. an answer falls out of my mouth for her question.

as i've been designated as an outsider, it makes it easier to observe the world of humans and its expression closely. a common misconception i've noticed is the property of human nature, more specifically its designation of only belonging to the human species. the phellem of a southern live oak's trunk protects its existence like the epidermis of a human's skin; the harvest-men crave shelter and food, and the salvation of those that control its existence; the burmese python does not know why it is hated, and cannot be faulted for its invasive nature; the emperor penguins yearn for companionship, no matter where it is found; and the palomino rabbit fights and fights and fights, only to live. our selves are reflected in the rest of the universe, and especially so in the domains of life on our darling planet.

"i think that human nature is defined by how you express it," i say. "you don't really have to be human to have humanity." the wind has not increased in intensity, but is much more noticeable now.

"yeah," she replies, "that's the first time i've gotten an answer to that today."