By Kusani
The mindset of a lioness is a strange things, sometimes. Full of contradictions (adaptability to different circumstances) and paradoxes (well-rounded-ness).
Take, for example, a lioness-mother with her cubs. It’s the heat of the day, and she’s half-dozing in the shade. Her senses still report on what other animals are nearby – the reek of a buffalo herd upwind, the occasional flutter of a bird in the acacia tree overhead, the lazy movements of distant grazing gazelles. Her body, both warmed and drained by the sheer heat, is in a state of almost-sleep – like a trance. Her cubs are her most immediate concern, and her head will turn as she keeps track of them if they play, or she’ll “listen” to the feel of their small bodies pushed up against her flank to nap. She is both conscious and asleep, alert and aware, yet there is no sense of action – only the ability to react.
Take, for example, a lioness-mother on the hunt to feed her cubs. There is cooperation and intelligence amongst huntresses – make no mistake – and it is both similar and different to how a wolf pack works. She must be alert and keen to pick out the target, pegged by his weakness or his distance from his own mother – and her fellow lionesses must choose the same target by the same criteria. The one that is easiest to get. She feeds on the input of her senses, can almost taste the wind, and she moves forward without any signal from her companions. They know – they operate on the same instinctual level, and on that level, their minds are one. And now, she must be both reaction and action. She is fast and strong, and with her pridemates, she is a killer – but she is not unstoppable. Prey have taken back their calves before – or other predators have claimed the kill and driven her off. But gone now is the sense of passive existence – she is moving and breathing and there will be blood and meat. Adrenaline and flesh-stench is already in the air, and the herd is restless as the lionesses close in. They are focused and yet still listening-with-all-senses to everything around them.
Active, and reactive. Passive, and aggressive. Single-minded focus, and mindless diffusion. Lioness can do all of these things. Her life is easier than some, sometimes – she has pridemates to help her hunt, and she has a male or two to defend herself and her cubs. The pride together will protect its hunting grounds, but they are not bound to one patch of land – they can and will move if the food leaves or the water dries.
Active, when I can feel my heart beating in my ears and I’m moving and there are claws on my fingers and a tail slung out behind me and my lips are curled to show off fangs that no one can see. Active, but still aware, when the music is loud – almost louder than my own heart – and I’m moving in response, instinctive, subconscious, never trying to think but only letting myself -be-.
Passive, when I am still, and warm, and cozy, and all of my senses report but I pay no more mind to one over the other. Passive, reactive, when I am curled up with my mate or my animals, listening to my skin report their warmth and weight, listening to the air move as people move, listening to things that my ears can’t fathom ever hearing but it’s listening all the same. Almost mindless, almost not-conscious, when all that exists is a quiet self and the external world – no internal chatter, no thoughts, only input of senses and the ability to react if need be.