The joy of being human…or a dog?

(I am procrastinating on studying for my accounting quiz on Friday, dear Lord have mercy on my grades because I am contributing to the thought processes of the world.)

I was thinking about being human. If I had a choice, would I want to be the world’s happiest dog, or the current human being that I am? No this is not a straightforward case on how valuable life is, and how we should not commit suicide, because I know that committing suicide won’t make me the world’s happiest dog.

I am just wondering- what are the pros and cons of being human, and if I had a choice, a real choice, standing at the ‘Go’ square of heaven- what would be my choice? Is it between two physical forms: a two-legged being with hair, or a four-legged being with fur? Or is it between two levels of thinking- the mathematical, artistic, analytical, and the loyal and slightly oblivious? Would God show those standing in the queue a menu of options- “choose to experience these” or just “this is what you will look like”- kind of like the drive-through of McDonalds?

I was thinking of all the good things about being human. The things that I enjoy.

Firstly, the convenience. I have opposable thumbs. I am able to open cans of preserved peaches and mix matcha-flavoured ice cream with warm milk. I can text my friend in China pictures of my nose hair. My physical body allows me to do things that dogs cannot do, although it also leads to self-esteem issues because I am tall enough to see my reflection in mirrors after eating too much of that aforementioned ice cream.

Secondly, I have intelligence. I am able to hold off on immediate temptations like watching a movie, to study for a test, so that it ends up in better grades and better job prospects and eventually more money so that I can fund my dog’s future. Dogs don’t hold off on enjoyment. They are like babies, dependable on humans and completely and stubbornly persistent until they get what they want. Does that mean that I have more options as a human? Actually, I think I would have more options as a dog, because I wouldn’t be so stressed out about living a proper life. I wouldn’t have a religion as a dog, because my brain cannot spell the word ‘faith’ properly. My lack of intelligence would be celebrated in times of war, because I do not pose a threat and am cunningly skilled at survival.

Thirdly, I wish I was more expressive. As a human I often find that I cannot say what I want to say. I wish I could tell my accounting groupmates that I hope they are suffering right now, because they are possibly jeopardizing my final grades. But that is not a social nicety. As a dog I would be unrestrained and bark at them until they form puddles of regretful, human, goo. Also, as a human, I can’t show my affection towards people who are already attached, because it is rude and scary. But as a dog, oh boy, I would be the world’s most famous stalker. It would be obvious to everyone that I am intent on that human, and no one can prevent me from following him till the end of time.

Humans have to work hard. They have to constantly improve their personalities or they will end up with no friends, or worse, boring friends. Dogs don’t have to work at anything, they can just be. Even the sled-pulling dogs in the North Pole, they don’t have to think about how else can they please their boss to get a career promotion. Okay maybe they do, maybe there is some sort of dog-totem-pole that I don’t know about.

And as humans, do we enjoy more? I have the full emotional spectrum that the average human being has. I feel anger when my groupmates are assholes, I feel joy when my accounting quiz is over, I feel fear when I realise that I only have four more days till another sleepless night. And happy when I have food, good friends, a book to read under the night sky, near the waves. I feel alone when my brothers leave me. But because there are so many emotions to feel, I actually think we understand less of what we feel, and we react instinctively more often. We don’t luxuriate in that emotion because it is so fleeting. Only the negative ones stay for long, and that’s when we want to turn into dogs and just not feel anymore. To get rid of the thoughts in our heads. Does he love me, should I stay, what am I going to do with you, please help me?

Being human, to me, is only a joy when there are things to look forward to. When I can find meaning in my life that goes beyond guilt and responsibility. When I sketch out my schedule for the week and I realise that there are not one, but three events this week that I look forward to. (If there’s only one then I’ll usually create two of my own.) These events are things I truly enjoy, or things which are interesting and challenging which I have never done before.

That makes me happy because I feel alive. I have full access to my logical thinking and my limbs are functioning properly. I have no immediate worries and lots of good things ahead in life. But what if I am sick and in the hospital and the only thing I know for sure is that my medical bills are going to be stacked up on my desk when I return home. Assuming I return home. Assuming I still have four limbs and a head when I return home.

I think I would want to be a dog then. A healthy, pain-free dog of reasonable size and shape.