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Pandas: An example for life

| Friday, April 22, 2016

Recently, I’ve gained an almost unhealthy obsession with pandas, especially with the pandas living at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Many of my friends do not understand my obsession with these chubby bears. True, they don’t really do anything but eat bamboo all day and scratch their bellies with their feet, but I’m here to tell you why panda-watching can actually bring enlightenment to your life.

1. Pandas don’t care about anything

We live in a world that constantly bombards us with the ideal of perfectionism. Everyone must get into the perfect school, make perfect grades, get the perfect job and find the perfect soul mate.  Perfectionism is not real; it is an unattainable ideal. Many humans cannot grasp the idea that everything does not need to be perfect. Surprisingly, pandas actually have this life lesson down. From watching the live panda cam, one can see that pandas hardly ever get upset. For example, if a panda falls over in front of all the visitors at the zoo, the panda just gets up and goes eats bamboo. If a panda gets in a territorial fight with another panda, eventually sleepiness calls and they all just fall asleep together. Pandas just do not care!

2. Paraphrasing the immortal words of Cyndi Lauper, “Pandas just want to have fun”  

From the beginning of time, there has been a debate on whether or not animals have souls. Do animals make it to heaven? Do they feel happiness, sadness or anger in the same way that humans do? When Bei Bei was born, Mei, the mother panda, had her maternal instincts kick in. If Bei Bei cried, Mei would feed him. If Bei Bei got antsy, she would make him go take a nap. But, Mei chooses to play with Bei Bei. One can see this love for play through photos, in person, or on the live cam that Mei loves playing with Bei Bei as much as Bei Bei loves being around his mother. The two are almost inseparable. And their playing isn’t just instinctual play; It’s really “I want to have fun with you,” playtime. The two bears will wrestle and nip at each other for a couple of hours before falling asleep. And their play doesn’t just show their liveliness and personalities — their frustration does, too. Bei Bei has a ton of energy. He’s always going at a million miles an hour until he plops down with exhaustion. Mei does not always want to play: Most of the time, she would rather eat. When Bei Bei comes up to beg to play with his mom and Mei is not in the mood, Mei will literally kick or slap Bei Bei away. If she doesn’t want to deal with her baby, she makes it clear. It’s actually pretty hilarious (I am not condoning panda abuse), and shows how much personality rather than instinct these animals have.

Moral of the story, if you are stressed out or just can’t deal go watch some pandas.  They’ll teach you a thing or two about being a good human.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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