Be Yourself, Not Somebody Else

Once there were two animals who were being kept as companions and pets by a woman. One was a Capuchin Monkey, and the other was a tamed Coyote. One might find it unusual that a North American Wild Dog and a South American Monkey would be brought together by a common citizen of the mid-western U.S.A., but this lady liked to see a couple of intelligent and formidable animals get along well. She said that it was always possible for animals to have unlikely friendships and loves between species, as well as always extraordinary.

And the surprising thing was, the Monkey and the Coyote did get along very well. They played games liked hopscotch, tag, and sniff-out-treats; the Monkey would groom and massage the Coyote, who in return would pet and nuzzle her; they also would go for walks together as well as with their owner; and they shared food almost altruistically. They seemed like the perfect odd animal combination.

But there was something most people didn't know, except for their owner. The Coyote was a little bit envious of her Monkey pal. She saw the way the intelligent Capuchin could climb furniture, shelves, buildings, trees, and many other high places with such ease, and she marveled at the Monkey's opposable thumbs, opposable feet, and semi-prehensile tail. Although she couldn't use her tail for taking items, it did help her climb and dangle more easily, and the Coyote found it awesome that her friend could use her feet like a second pair of hands. The Coyote wanted so badly to be like her, able to climb trees and buildings, grab things with hands instead of pawing them with paws, and dangling with the help of a muscular tail.

The irony of it, however, was that the Monkey felt the same way towards the Coyote. The Monkey envied the way her Coyote friend could run so fast, sniff out food and water, as well as other substances, show loyal affection to their owner the way only a dog could do, and put on a more feral expression when angry or trying to scare away another animal. The little Capuchin longed to run like a dog, growl at nosy neighbors, and earn unconditional love. As it was, being a noisy Monkey and all, many people found her vocal calls to be very irritating, and didn't show her the same appreciation they showed the Coyote.

Now it so happened that one day, downtown, while their owner was running errands, after the Monkey had climbed to the fifth floor of an apartment building, and the Coyote had cleaned up some edible garbage for some grateful people, that they decided to try to imitate each other. The Coyote ran toward a three-story building and started to climb, or try to climb, a tree that was growing next to it. She tried to clutch the branches with her paws, wrapping her toes around them like stubby fingers. But no matter what she did, she just couldn't get a good grip like the Monkey could. She struggled to get higher, and then she tried wrapping her tail around a strong-looking branch, but her tail slipped immediately and she fell to the ground, breaking one of her legs upon impact.

Meanwhile, the Monkey had scurried over to where a crowd of humans were gathered together around the place where some garbage had been before. She walked over to them on her hands and feet and tried to fawn before them and act cute, like a dog. They stared at her like she was crazy. "There it goes again," one of the men said, "Imitating a creature it isn't. So typical of monkeys and apes!" With that plan having failed, she tried running very fast around them, again on her hands and feet, but again they thought she looked like a ridiculous dog impressionist. Finally, seeing some choice pieces of refuse left over from the Coyote's previous scavenging, she started to eat some of it. She grimaced at the taste. It was nothing like the delicious fruit, nuts, monkey chow, and chicken eggs she usually ate. The people looked disgusted at her actions. Then, suddenly, she felt very sick to her stomach, and she had to stumble away from the crowd, clutching her belly.

Fortunately for both jealous friends, their human owner had just come along, and seeing the sorry condition they were in, she asked a kind man to help her carry them to a veterinarian. After the animal doctor had cured the Monkey's food poisoning and patched up the Coyote's broken leg, the lady took them home. There, she set them down and had a little talk with them.

"I know that both of you are envious of each other," she said. "You both wish you were like the other. Now I can understand that it's sometimes hard not to have another person or animal's talents; I sometimes felt that way myself as a little girl. But God gave all living things their own abilities, instincts, and ways of thinking and feeling about things, and you should respect that. It doesn't serve to pretend to be something you're not."

"It doesn't?" said the Monkey and Coyote at the same time.

"No!" she said. "You two are friends, and friends shouldn't be jealous of each other, anyway. You should appreciate each other for who you are, and you should be grateful for what God gave your kind when he created you. What would a Capuchin Monkey be without opposable thumbs, opposable toes, high intelligence, and a prehensile tail? And what would a Coyote be without paws and claws, a good long snout, a puffed-up tail, and speed to outstrip its prey, not to mention being related to the domestic dogs that so many people love?"

The Monkey and the Coyote looked at each other.

"Hey!" said the Monkey, "She's right. We shouldn't try to be each other. We should admire and respect each other, and ourselves, for who we are!"

"I agree!" said the Coyote. "Friends again?" She held out her paw for shaking.

The Monkey clasped her right foot with its opposable toe on the Coyote's paw and they shook. They both laughed at the way they each shook "hands."

"Now how about a nice meal, and then a nice nap?" offered their owner.

Don't try to be something you're not; it isn't nice to pretend to be something you're not. Just be happy with what you have now and be yourself.