The planet does not need more “successful people”. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lover of all kinds.— Dalai Lama
Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.— Maya Angelou
We urgently need to bring to our communities the limitless capacity to love, serve, and create for and with each other. We urgently need to bring the neighbor back into our hoods, not only in our inner cities but also in our suburbs, our gated communities, on Main Street and Wall Street, and on Ivy League campuses.— Grace Lee Boggs
The only animals that live year-round in Antarctica is Emperor Penguins. Huddling close together, they survive the dark winter chill by taking turns fighting the cold temperatures. Temperatures regularly hit -100 degrees Celsius and wind speeds can reach 124 Kilometers per hour. Emperor Penguins cannot change their environment so they have developed several adaptations to allow it to thrive in these extreme ferocious conditions. Many of these adaptations are physical but it also has a behavioral defense as well. And though you wouldn’t exactly risk your own life to deliver a group project, it’s worth remembering that qualities like resilience, flexibility and courage will ensure success in any situation.
Every year, for about nine months of the year the emperor penguin puts itself through hell to achieve one single purpose – to hatch an egg!
To start its journey, the emperor penguin swims fast and gracefully in the water but then suddenly shoots out of the water with great speed like a torpedo to land on its feet on the ice. Then an endless caravan of hundreds of emperor penguins begins a trek of more than one hundred kilometers across the ice in step, and in silence. They move at a very slow penguin pace because the penguin is a very poor walker on land. When they reach their breeding ground, they mate and the male takes the egg into a pouch over his feet, he must now endure several months of blizzards and extremely low temperatures carefully balances the egg on his feet it remains warm and does not touch the ice while the egg hatches. These colonies together to huddle for warmth.
It is said that in the extreme conditions of Antarctica, the Emperor penguins huddle in densely packed circles to keep each other warm and thriving. Healthy and fit adults whose temperature regulation is the most mature take up the periphery of the circle, and thus are buffeted the most by the frozen air and fierce winds. The youngest of those with more difficulty regulating body heat are permanently placed in the warm center of the huddle. The adult penguins on the outermost edges of the huddle periodically work their way into the center of the circle with the immature and infirm penguins, in order to regain their own body heat. Meanwhile, other robust adults take their places in the frigid outer circle. Thus the herd keeps up the body heat of the whole group without sacrificing the young or old, and giving those in the prime of life regular opportunities to warm themselves in the middle. Perhaps, the motto of the group might best be stated, “Cold penguins to the middle!”
Perhaps human beings are much like the penguins of Antarctica, we try desperately to keep safe and comforted in the midst of a crisis or during times of grief. At times we may feel very cold, needing heat and contact from those around us. However, at other times we are capable of offering warmth and protecting others. The lesson of the Emperor penguins will serve us well!
Although we do not have to face this kind of weather, there is enough evidence showing that individuals who have strong social relationships are less likely to die. So, like the penguins, it is crucial that we stick together during life’s roughest “storms.”
Not only can social relationships lengthen your lifespan, but they can also provide a sense of belonging, increased sense of self-worth, and a feeling of security. So, I think the penguins are on to something here—we need each other.
Jamie Tworkowski, found of the not-for-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, sums it up quite well . . .
“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.”