Thursday, March 24, 2016

Let Go and Grow

Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner is one of my very favorite books. It is the story of the watermen who live and work on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and it is also the story
of their counterpart, the blue crab.

It’s all there in Beautiful Swimmers: how the crab lives, feeds, courts, mates, dies and yes, is eaten. And Warner shows us how the waterman trains, dresses, plans, thinks, prays, eats, and yes, dies. These two --the crabs and the watermen-- are wonderfully and positively co-dependent.  

I learned two of my favorite words in this beautiful book: First, autotomy is the remarkable crustacean attribute of dropping a limb, allowing a pincher or leg to fall away as a means of exiting a battle or a threatening situation.

Then, autogeny, which is the related, and accompanying attribute referring to a crab’s ability to grow a new limb to replace the one sacrificed for survival.

I could not, not the first time I read this, or now, years later, miss the comparison to humans. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know when to drop something or someone and just walk away? And, yes to also be able to naturally grow that part of one’s self again, to make a choice, and to become new.

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