The art of giving up: lessons from the water bear...
I recently suffered a series of crushing set backs.
The death of a beloved friend. A devastating illness. And then wave after wave of disappointments large and small. And the inevitable despair that follows.
And of course there's still...Trump. Unchained now. Wreaking a kind of psychotic social and political havoc I never believed possible--that's another story. But it did add insult to injury.
The more I tried to fight back, the more confusing and painful things became. I was--still am--physically and emotionally spent. Brittle. Broken.
But then...I remembered something.
A tiny thing. A very tiny thing: an eight-legged micro animal that has somehow survived for over 500 million years.
It's called a "tardigrade." Or, affectionately by some, a"water bear" or "moss piglets." And scientists are fascinated with them because they are seemingly indestructible.
And may teach us how to be indestructible, too.
They have survived five mass extinctions in their time on earth. They can live in volcanoes. Be frozen in Arctic ice for decades and "reanimate" when thawed.
They can live deep down underwater, in pressure six times greater than in the infamous Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth.
Shot into space in 2007, they survived the vacuum and solar radiation for 10 days. In fact, tardigrade eggs were found on a Mars meteorite that fell in Antarctica in 2016. So they may actually be little space aliens.
Their secret? When things get rough, they turn into "tuns." Cryptobiosis, that's called. It's a process of releasing all the water in their bodies and turning into little leather sacs. Organs protected by a sugary gel which sustains them for as long as necessary.
Scientists believe they will outlive us. And...damned near everything else on this and perhaps other planets. Because they know how, and when, to "give up." Stop fighting. Curl up in a ball and just...wait.
May sound too easy. It's certainly nothing new. Many religions and philosophies and disciplines preach much the same thing. "Turn on, tune in, drop out," we said in the 60s.
And yet, for some reason, I find these teeny little creatures better teachers than most. Perhaps because they show, rather than tell. And have been doing it for millions of years.
I can become a "tun." Give up, curl up and protect myself for a bit. Live on bits of stored wisdom and spiritual energy I've amassed over the years, as I heal and wait for a better day.
Yes, that's it. I shall water bear it as long as I have to.
And emerge, later, miraculous and victorious...