I am currently reading John Berger's Why Look at Animals?, and each of the essays in it are tremendously thought-provoking. The first one, called "A Mouse Story", talks about a man's encounter with various mice that sneak into his kitchen to nibble on his bread. After using a humane trap to catch them, he releases them in a field near his home. The style is simple and it is largely written in the present tense. It is a quiet and intimate encounter with the animal world.
This reminded me of the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, such as "The Lion Cage", "The Panther" and "The Gazelle", which focus intensely on the perceived inner and outer world of the animals named, suggesting volumes about the relationship between humans and animals.
It strikes me how many poems and essays about animals are written in the present tense, as curiously intimate encounters and descriptions. Yet Berger's book, according to the cover notes of the Penguin edition, explores "how the ancient relationship between man and nature has been severed in the modern consumer age, with the animals that used to be at the centre of our existence now marginalized and reduced to spectacle".
REFLECT: How do the lives of animals connect with your own? How can you be more conscious of this relationship in a way that either brings you balance, or promotes our relationship with animals in our envirionment?
MORE THOUGHT FUEL: Watch John Berger's influential Ways of Seeing series, as well as The Art of Looking. And read this Brain Pickings post that mentions John Berger and animals.