At times it seems as if the whole company of nature, ourselves included, is simply at play.
It's evident to me that animal 'play' happens out of sheer spontaneous joy, curiosity and invention - rather than purely to fulfil some narrow, evolutionary purpose. Look at puppies running after a ball. Lion cubs pouncing on their mothers' tails. Young polar bears play-fighting. Dolphins blowing bubbles, chasing them to the water's surface, then bursting them. Homo sapiens applying pigments such as ochre, manganese oxide and charcoal to cave walls and with them creating images of horses and bison, aurochs and reindeer.
Play is the opposite of Management by Objectives, the current creed which rigidly screens out spontaneity, imagination and surprise as parts of the creative process.
Spontaneity. Imagination. Surprise. All of which, at least for me, are essential to the human experience. And the animal one too?
So many of the transactions between different organisms seem almost incidental, wildly gratuitous.
What is the nature, the meaning of these 'gratuitous transactions'? To my mind they can't be completely understood simply by following worthy-but-dull, cause-and-effect scientific reasoning. Is 'sympathetic magic' coming into play?
(All quotations come from Richard Mabey's book Nature Cure. All opinions are mine alone.)