“Look at life through the windshield, not the rear view mirror.”
~ Byrd Bagget​

As I was searching the web for references for a recent article, I came across a really moving posting (Longo,2014) from Michele Longo entitled “Penguins don’t obsess about suicide.” The gist of it is that we sometimes get so depressed thinking about the quality of our lives, and the point of living, that we contemplate suicide as a way out. The author found inspiration and a kind of perspective by watching the film “March of the Penguins,” and I think she makes some excellent points.

In the movie, the narrator states “There is a mysterious ritual that dates back thousands of years. No living creature has survived it except the penguin. They have wings but cannot fly. They’re birds that think they’re fish. And every year, they embark on a nearly impossible journey to find a mate. For twenty days and twenty nights the emperor penguin will march to a place so extreme it supports no other life. In the harshest place on Earth loves finds a way….(IMDb, 2014)”

Longo points out that penguins don’t have expectations about what life should and shouldn’t be, whether they are a success or failure. Hope is a good thing, but expectations are deadly. Penguins also live and love in communities, and we know that with depression frequently comes isolation- a withdrawing from community.

Penguins also accept what is without judgment, nor do they let their failures define them. An egg that is lost will make the whole twenty day march futile and possibly cost a penguin a mate, but they each make the effort, they try. In one of my favorite quotes of all time, Carl Jung says “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become (positivelypositive, 2014).” Think about that for a moment: how often do we think of ourselves as “failures” or “losers” because either someone who should know better has told us this, or we have failed at something important to us. It would be so much better if we could say “yes I’ve failed at some things, succeeded at others, but what matters is that I keep trying.”

And so, dear reader, tomorrow when we show up to walk in the “Action for Distraction” benefit 5k in Morristown, we’re bringing a penguin. Well, someone in a penguin suit, it’s getting a bit warmer lately. And this is why we’re doing it: we all need to remember that the penguin, a denizen of one of the most inhospitable places on earth, rises above his surroundings, doesn’t let failure define her, doesn’t worry that they are unacceptable because of things that don’t really matter. They make the journey matter. Let’s all make the journey matter from this day forward, not defined by our past, but by defining our future.

References

IMDb. (2014) March of the Penguins Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0428803/quotes

Longo, M. (January 14, 2014). Penguins don’t obsess about suicide. Retrieved from http://peerintowellness.com/penguins-dont-obsess-suicide/

positivelypositive (2014). I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. Retrieved from http://www.positivelypositive.com/quotes/i-am-not-what-happened-to-me-i-am-what-i-choose-to-become/

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