In Al-Anon, I was told to make positive affirmations about myself. At first, that seemed fairly difficult because I didn't have a lot of positive things to say.
Growing up, I was tall, a bit shy and had a lot of insecurities about looks. Now I realize that how I thought of myself on the inside did affect how I projected myself on the outside. I wasn't particularly outgoing around others because I deeply wanted to fit in, yet my attitude proclaimed that I didn't care.
It's interesting how the criticism of my father was something that I took to heart. I've since learned that people speak through their own lens of character defects. And that not every word is an absolute truth.
And I've come to understand more and more that there is beauty in the strangest things. Beauty can be unconventional. So now I celebrate my own "beauty" both internally and externally. I appreciate the beauty of others, even when that beauty is unconventional…perhaps especially when the beauty is unconventional.And so this serious discussion about beauty brings me to the celebration of a particularly unconventional critter. Today is Hagfish day. I know that it isn't one of those great events that many people know about.
But the humble hagfish is really an interesting critter. Here are some fascinating facts:
- The hagfish secretes a small amount of very dense, balled up protein when “grabbed” or startled. Tiny amounts of this protein are secreted through the skin, but can create up to 20 liters of slime nearly instantaneously as it reacts with sea water. It seems that the balled up proteins are REALLY attracted to water molecules, and once those bad boys get together they make a jello party. This slime can completely trap the predator attacking the hagfish and suffocate it by clogging its gills… which sets up the next crazy point.
- Hagfish have learned to escape their own slime by tying themselves into an ordinary overhand knot, and then slipping through their own knot to free themselves.
- Hagfish also have learned to use their slime for other purposes. In particular, hagfish are well known in Cape Cod for ruining fish hauls from trawlers. Hagfish will prey on fish captured in nets; however they don't have jaws or sharp teeth to cut into the tough fish scales. Instead, they have learned to swim into the mouth of captured fish, eating its way out through the entire intestinal tract and finally exiting where… well, where things exit the body. So sometimes fishermen will pull up a haul with several fish that are nothing but skin and bones. I knew that would make you wince!