self defense

November 5, 2019

The Bombardier beetle’s chemical spray can kill most insects and burn the human flesh. Roses have sharp thorns that dig into animals when they get too close. The boxer crab uses sea anemones as venomous boxing gloves. Nature is genius. Humans too, are equipped with sophisticated systems of self defense. But what about emotional security? Does a rainbow trout, like human beings, have to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the life’s great challenges? Charles Darwin once wrote in his book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals that insects “express anger, terror, jealousy and love.” It’s hard to imagine a beetle falling in love, or a spider lamenting the loss of a loved one. And if they do, I would hazard that their version of grief or love sickness or social insecurity isn’t quite as complicated as ours. As bonkers as it sounds, in times of distress I sometimes think, “right, what would a bear do?” “How would a dragonfly navigate this?” Somehow, I feel a little lighter imagining myself as an insect, or a burly mammal. And in that moment, I feel more equipped with the emotional and physical intelligence I need.

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