I am riding my motorcycle slowly on a narrow road in a hillside near Northern Taiwan coastline. It is almost getting dark. A stray dog catches my attention. Unlike street dogs in Taipei, he does not duck away. He just keeps staring at me. I move past the creepy dog, but soon has to stop and think what to do: the road ahead looks like a dead-end.
The dog sees I am trapped. Only then he breaks the silence and starts to bark. Strangely, he isn’t barking at me. He is barking around. Timid dog, I exhale a breath of relief and decide to turn back. Then I see the purpose of his bark: to call other dogs.
Other stray dogs are coming out of nowhere. Three more appear on sight, shouting at each other, as if to communicate that the prey is here. I speed up and move past the growing number of wild, untamed carnivorous beasts with intentions.
What was that? I keep thinking, now checked into in a nearby hotel, and decides to take a walk. The reception lady (also walking idly inside the courtyard) gives me a warning. Beware of the dogs, she says. I already know what she means but I still brush her concern off. That was an isolated incident—I still want to believe.
But a few steps outside the hotel, another dog comes out of the dark. Again he stares at me. Again he starts barking, this time the bark turning into howls, echoing and attracting other howls. I turn back before it is too late. The reception lady shrugs her shoulder: People here love feeding those dogs. I think: You mean those dogs love feeding on people?
I sit on the hotel bench and look outside. Everywhere there are low brushes and orchard trees, completely in dark. I hear the insects, the wind, and the still echoing howls whispering into my ears. You’re not supposed to come out here. Do you think you can tame us? Look at you, miserably locked up in your tiny fortress. The night belongs to us.
For a while I imagine cavemen’s lives. Just like I am now, they must have lived inside their hideouts during night. The night is kind to everybody; that is still true in the sense that the darkness allows everything to show its true nature. A human, without its protections and tools, returns into “one of them.”
During night, I cannot walk around in the wild, idly believing how the mother nature has been “kind” to us, breathing fresh air and lying down on a turf, taking a nap. The nature doesn’t care if it is “kind” to certain species or not. The nature just exists, and lets its members do whatever they want to do.
One step outside our artificial boundary exists a dog-eat-dog world that has continued for billions of years. Exposed in the dark, I return to “one of them.” At least, I am not above or below the nature. I might not feel safe and not in control of anything except my own body, but I am humble.
We always say we must learn how to co-exist with nature. But once a long time ago, we did live “in harmony” with the nature, the ultimate winner-takes-it-all world. We certainly don’t want to go back to that primitive stage. When we say we want to be eco-friendly, we are still putting ourselves higher than the rest. The friendship can be mutual, but it is always clear who the master is.
Intrinsically arrogant, yes, but I certainly prefer that to endless death-matches.