To our knowledge, modern humans; Homo sapiens, emerged in Africa between 200,000 to 150,000 years ago. A recent post on New Scientist, proposed that our genes may go even further back, perhaps 340,000 years (1). Either way humans have inhabited this earth for a relatively long time, or short time, but far beyond what can be documented. Also, Chances are if you were to dress up one of these early Homo Sapiens, in a pair of skinny jeans and all stars, you probably wouldn’t notice him sitting next to you. Although the human world has changed immensely as far as technology goes, our biology is pretty much the same.
We humans have been nomadic hunters and gatherers throughout most of our history. We believe that people started farming around 10,000 years ago. This would have been the beginning of sedentary life. Fast forward again to the Industrial Revolution, the car, the plane, the Information Age, the Internet, and me sitting with a tablet (not made if stone) in hand, while some downloaded content is played on my TV, because I find the 200 channels to be boring.
I’ve grown food in the garden before. It seems to taste better. I’ve also caught fish. Your heart races when a fish pulls on that line, as you fight to bring it in, as it tries to escape. I appreciate the life that is taken in order for me to have nourishment. Having been a part of the process makes the fish more enjoyable as well. I have never hunted, but I assume the feeling and the reward is even more intense.
Now, if I had never fished when I was younger, I wouldn’t starve because we could always buy fish or meat or vegetables from the grocery store, already prepared. The meat you buy in the store is hairless, scaleless, and often sliced or ground into a form where the original animal is barely recognizable. It’s tidy and it’s super convenient. It’s convenient to drive up to a window, order a burger and eat it in your car. I personally enjoy the convenience, but it makes me wonder about how my 200,000 year old needs come in. We’re the same animal. They must still be there.
Our basic needs are met in society. We have food, clothes, shelter and companionship. Our deepest wants remain about the same. Women want man with power, to protect and provide for their families. Men still look for women that eat certain dimensions, and symmetrical facial features, which translate into genetic health and child earring abilities. We look for these things even if we don’t want children, because we still have deep, base motivations for mate selection.
The hunting, gathering activity has been replaced with a chase for wealth. Rather than gathering to hunt, we gather to work and trade. The satisfaction can now be gained from landing sales. There is an accomplished feeling when a project is completed, or a bonus is earned through our efforts. We are motivated by society to attain wealth and status within our group. Our groups have gotten bigger, and the hunt is less physical. We still use hunting terms like bagging a client, or landing a big sale, because the importance of the chase is still there.
I do, however, wonder how much or our primitive selves are satisfied by our very new lifestyles. Our bodies are the same as those who ran down wild game as their “jobs.” There are still some people who live that way today. Are we missing something by dressing up in business costume and driving in cars? Does modern city life itself lead to anxiety disorders and depression and loneliness? Perhaps it is a contributor. It sure seems prevelant. I’m not suggesting that we all return to the forest. There are comforts that come with modern life. I like being able to drive a car and go to the hospital if need be. I also think that this is a part of nature, as we are animals, and the human animal has developed this way.
What I think many people are missing is the physical accomplishment of he hunt. Should we all pick up hunting? I don’t think the world could sustain that, nor do I think everyone has the stomach or desire. I believe the stress that builds up in our bodies needs to regularly be released through occasional ventures out of the buzzing hive of the city as well as through strenuous exercise.
Unplugging from the hive by finding a quiet place outside is another thing that I think can help a lot of people, since I find it helpful. Occasionally stepping out to a quiet spot can quiet the mind. Crowded places tend to bring about a constant, low level stress than can be quieted when you’re away for a while.
Since the mind is a part of the body, it is affected by the body’s state. Regular exercise allows us to maintain some balance. Your body’s physical state is a giant thing to ignore, since it is what carries our brains around. I won’t get into the particulars of exercise, but getting up and moving about is important to your physical and mental state. This is unfortunately often overlooked or ignored because it is something new that must be artificially added. I seriously doubt our ancestors of over 100,000 years ago would be doing push-ups and pull-ups since their energy was being spent throughout ther regular work day. Since we don’t share their occupations, hwe must add this in. Your body and brain will thank you for it. Or maybe you’re already being thanked.