I Wanna Be a Starfish

We learned it in some of our first science classes as kids… If a starfish loses a leg, it can regrow a new one. Lizards can grow new tails. Some worms and the often-spoken-about-but-rarely-seen sea cucumber, if you cut them into pieces, each piece becomes a new animal. Regeneration after amputation. Amazing stuff. Scientists have been studying forever in an attempt to put this information to medical use. There have been some successes, but there are still things that, once removed, never return. But not for lack of trying.

As humans, we regenerate constantly. Skin, hair, nails. blood… All constantly regrowing and replenishing themselves. The bigger body parts that we can’t regrow yet, those we can replace with transplants and prosthetics.  In one way or another, they heal. In a similar vein, the loss of face and erosion of confidence from the occasional foot-in-mouth, undone zipper, or escaped flatulence… That kind of wound to our metaphysical limbs will heal in short order. And usually with only the slightest scar.

But there are times in life where circumstances, events, or the words or actions of others cut the limb of our soul clean off. Our spirit legs taken clean out from under us, we lose propulsion and become stuck… dead in the water. Most of the time, if we wait it out, whatever aspect of our soul was cut, it will regrow. It is painful. It is difficult. But it is worth it. The regeneration process, for all its visceral discomfort, is quite simple: God/Goddess/Universe provides the first cells by surrounding us with opportunities for growth. The food of encouragement comes along and we are on our way to repair. Even if the push is small and we start out at a slow pace, we will move again. The post-amputation stumps of spirit, of confidence, of clarity… Even if the injury was near fatal at the start… Those things will eventually regrow given time.

Unless we fight it.

If we have a limb cut from us, be it the limb of trust, of motivation, of love; and we don’t want it back… Well, we will forever be crippled by the loss.

It’s not usually that we enjoy being bereft of whatever virtue was taken from us. Most of the time, the barrier is fear. Fear that if we got it back, it would only be taken again. Over and over. An endless cycle of loss and torment. And for many of us, when we think we have finally come to terms with it and are ready to move on, the phantom pains of the amputated spirit remind us of what could happen, and the little green bud drops off. We are tail-less once again.

Sometimes, that fear is a healthy thing. Sometimes, by delaying the regrowth, we strengthen the rest of our constitution. Helpful when, in fact, our fears come true, and our regrown hope is cut from us again… We are better able to handle the time without it. But if we delay the growing of the new optimism for too long, we grow accustomed to living without it. We forget how much we need it. Because unlike an actual arm or leg, as was said in Scent of a Woman, “… There is nothing like… an amputated spirit; there is no prosthetic for that.”

While it is true that we can live without an arm or a leg, or even a prosthetic for one; living without a part of your spirit is a different matter entirely.

So if you have found yourself, like i have, fighting the regrowth of something you lost, be it trust or faith or love… Try to give in. Try to give up the fear. It won’t be easy. We’ll probably lose a few tail buds in the process. And there is still a chance that, once regrown, it will get chopped again. And there will be pain. And we will have to face the fear again. And it will suck. But practice makes perfect, right? We will learn and grow and move on again. We have to. We can live without limbs. But a life without trust, or faith, or love, is really no life at all.




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