The Deadly Romance of Peacocks, Nature’s Approval of Joie De Vivre

“Consider male peacocks paying a price, in terms of natural selection, for their garish plumage — it costs a fortune metabolically to grow, restricts mobility, and is conspicuous to predators. But it sure boosts fitness via sexual selection.” — Behave, Robert Sapolsky, 2017.

4 min readSep 28, 2022


Peacocks are hot. One imagines them to be very romantic. They don't care about survival as much as fulfilling love. To survive or not, it is all transient, the peacock urges to enjoy and cares not to live on.

Something along the lines of Romeo and Juliette. The peacock embodies the hopeless lovers: In the middle of the war, lovers in the apocalypse, lovers at the end of the world, lovers that suffer a mental illness, lovers that commit suicide for their love, etc. Boner-wrenching.

I think hopeless romantic stories are the truest forms of life. Nothing in the world is predictable, and hopeless love acknolwedges that and pays it tribute. It does not dare pretend to predict, it understands, accepts, and adapts, fearing not death, but fearing a life that was dead.

Hopeless love stories can be a boy or girl, they can involve being in a drug cartel: Love with a criminal is a true acknowledgment of the shortness of life and radical colonization of love: Loving a drug dealer, a drug overlord, a guerrilla revolutionary, a serial killer (people may like serial killers for similar reasons.) The hopeless lover can be a victim of continuous bullying, of a routine job that causes fatiguing boredom, of a continuing mental illness causing suffering, etc. The peacocks emphasize the Now, they can’t secure a forever, so they forget about it, and I think it is rather admiring how nature validated that vision of life by allowing peacocks to survive alongside their fellow animals with traits that lessen protection against predators but increase sexual attractiveness.

I am definitely a hopeless romantic, I was never a lion or a tiger, but I can sure love and excite while living, which is a short while. And I’ve made peace, for a long time, with the fact that I can die by tomorrow. This explains my constant fight-or-flight brain (Let’s not call it a trauma. For now, it’s just what it's like to be a human with feelings, coping with a hopeless romance).

The peacock is basically saying: “I am here to make love to you, to please your eyes with my colorful feathers. We’re here to enjoy the aesthetics of life, the beauty of my skin, my colors, my posture, my dancing. Who cares if it gets the attention of predators and it will eventually cause the death of me? I will be eaten eventually. As long as I live a happy life, I can die with no care.” Hot hot hot!

The peacock values pleasure more than life. After all, in his world, he already secured life, he is living! And pleasure is what got him that life.

This is a true utopia, pursuing hopelessness. I think we love to play CS:GO and those video games because they allow us to respawn, and by knowing that, we jump into the enemy and try to kill until we are killed! It is thrilling, heroic. Players know that if we keep too much safety, we wouldn’t progress in the game. Campers, they’re called: Those who sit in one place with a sniper and wait for a victim. But if everyone was a camper, there is nothing to do, people must thrill and go forward, with a team, and face the others: Sharp attention, fast movements, quick reflexes, tunnel vision, finger muscles clenched and ready, that is true living. There are peacocks and tigers, there are sloths and crocodiles that wait for prey, and there are humans, sadly too often choosing sloths or peacocks.

A true utopia is if we know we can respawn, then we can pursue love truly and fully, with the same clenched muscles and sweet sweet adrenaline pumping through our veins and hearts. We feel the pounding in our chest, we are ready to die as much as we are ready to love and be loved. It’s a death wish.