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Recently, I started thinking we are like a bunch of porcupines walking around with our bellies up, poking into each other inadvertently as we all try to make sense of what is going on the world and in our little slice of it.
The image of the porcupine for human relations is one I’ve had for a long time.  I have often thought that people who presented to the world as cranky or “prickly” in some way, have a soft underbelly.  That image helps me in my work as well, as I strive to remember that even the most obstreperous individuals have a core of caring within them (however deeply buried). 
This image also has allowed me to persevere until I could make a connection with that soft underbelly in some way. I need a connection to be able to do the mediation work that I do.  I’m not always successful in the relating, but this image keeps me focused on the right thing –that each of us has deep sensitivities that may not show on the outside, but none the less exist and are very real.
During the time of COVID, I’ve started to see so many of us turn into some variant of a porcupine. People are more sensitive, more apt to become frustrated, more likely to avoid or misinterpret.  I credit the COVID context, as our whole species feels fear together and emotions are contagious.
These porcupines are also turning our bellies upward. We are all over-exposed – doing things we are not used to doing, cut off from each other and social interaction and physical touch, worried about and impacted by all manner of horror from finances to health to losing access to food.
These are real fears and, for some of us, realities.
What is the antidote?  I wish I had a quick one, and I don’t. What I do know for sure is that the soft underbelly exists and that I need to remind myself of my own first.  If I can remember that my little tummy needs tending and mending and healing, that I am sensitive and soft and caring, that my heart is open for business, the rest falls into place from there.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this video by the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert talking about porcupines!  Have a look!  See what she says!  So good!
Wishing you lots of love for your own tender bellies and for those porcupines out there that you love!