Chekov wrote that “if you show me a room with a man, a woman, and a beetle, the story is always about the man and the woman.” Maybe it was a teacup instead of a beetle. The point is that any story that involves humans is always about the things we do and don’t do to each other. The rest is, if not quite landscape, damn close.
We shouldn’t feel bad about caring most about each other. If beetles were writing the stories, they would all be about beetles, perhaps with a giant human foot as threatening landscape. We have evolved senses that are finely tuned to noticing each other and, only secondarily, finding the right fruit and avoiding, for example, venomous snakes. So when it comes to describing the world, we approach the endeavor with a view centered on ourselves, and then on animals like us or useful to us. The beetle, even if it lands in our hair, is low on the list. […]