The Life Lessons of Penguin – World Penguin Day 2017

Today is World Penguin Day! For more info see this page:

Anyone who knows me knows I love penguins. These adorable, majestic birds feel like they make up a part of my very being, such is my abiding love for them.

Christmas gift

Penguins first came into my life in the form of a cuddly toy from my late Uncle Tony. The imaginatively named Pengy was a gift for my first Christmas and one of my favourite cuddly friends growing up. He still watches over me to this day.

As I grew so did my obsession with all things Penguin. When my Danish cousin came to visit in 2006 she counted all of my penguin items and the total was nearing 100. I’ve been trying to heal my hoarding tendencies the last few years so most of the penguins have found new homes, but my favourites remain.

When I started exploring spirituality in the early 2000’s I came across the concept of animal guides, or totems. I found it fascinating but also incredibly frustrating. Where was Penguin? Eventually I found a book that included my soul brethren, and I finally understood why Penguin feels so much a part of me.

Many penguins (though not all) live in harsh climates where it’s difficult to survive, yet they thrive. They face some of the toughest conditions our planet can throw at them and they keep going. I have found in Penguin a perfect parallel to my own struggles with chronic illness, and how these experiences continue to shape me and make me stronger.

I was 17 when I got M.E. and it took me away from all I knew. Like the chick in the egg in some respects I have led a very sheltered existence, separated from the rest of the world. I have hatched, but I’m still very protected by my parents because I would not be able to live a life outside the support of the family home yet. I feel like I am currently in the moulting stage, where the chick’s downy fluff is slowly replaced by the tougher feathers that allow them to swim. I am currently land-bound but some day, in the not too distant future, I hope to gain my waterproof feathers.

While penguins may seem unwieldy, even comically awkward on land, they are masters of elegance in the water. There they are in their element, able to stretch their wings and glide with ease. They spend much of the year in the ocean swimming and fishing. How I long too to find myself in my true environment. How I look forward to finally flexing my wings, following life’s currents and being able to support myself.

Like Penguin I also aspire to a love-match relationship, one that can survive time apart, difficulties and weather all storms. It is difficult when you’re cloistered away to meet anyone, feeling like you’re still under mum and dad’s feet, looking out at the world but not able to take that step to independence. I’m safe, but like the chick I know there’s so much more out there to see, do and be a part of. I’m impatient, flapping my wings to try and build them up in anticipation for the long swims ahead.

Penguin is hardy, patient, communal yet solitary, awkward yet elegant, fierce yet loving, protective but friendly. They are a mass of contradictions and I love them for it. It seems, in my heart and soul, I too am a penguin.


Penguin Totem by Michelle, Northern Tamarisk


2 thoughts on “The Life Lessons of Penguin – World Penguin Day 2017

  1. I didn’t know there was such a thing as World Penguin Day!
    I wish you all the best with finding a way towards a more independent life. I’m going through a similar thing – it’s great to be improving, yet so frustrating at the same time! Good luck 🍀

    Liked by 1 person

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