Creating Your Right Life

inspiration & tools for empowered living


Lame Animal Totem: Pacu

Take a look at your teeth. If they resemble those of the pacu fish, pictured here, the pacu just might be your animal totem!

The pacu played a starring role in an episode of River Monsters, a television program featuring intrepid angler Jeremy Wade. The aptly-named-Wade went right into bodies of water in Papua New Guinea where the pacu is found, despite the rumor that this fish lives by biting nuts it finds floating on the water. Any nuts, if you catch my drift. Yes, the pacu, also known as the “ball cutter,” is said to accidentally geld men who, for some reason, feel they have no other option but to wash their nuts in the streams of Papua New Guinea. I mean almonds, of course. Or hazelnuts. Get your mind out of the gutter. There are pacu in there.

Anyway, the pacu carries the energy of social misdeeds ranging from slight gaffes to severe faux pas. If pacu is your totem, in addition to enjoying questionable dental hygiene, you may blow your nose into a formal tablecloth, shout in baby talk at anyone with an accent, bring ham as a bar mitzvah gift, or all three at once! Pacu energy is clumsy, oblivious, and boorish, the kind of vibe that makes people cringe so hard they might puncture a lung. Call on your pacu totem to help you offend your in-laws so severely you’ll never have to share a meal with them again, or to get rid of annoying “friends.” When a neighbor extends the hand of fellowship, or the pope offers his ring for you to kiss, bite down hard. And then politely ask them if they would like you to help them wash their nuts.


Buddy Up and Giddy Up…Insight from Martha

I’m learning to ride a horse, which is a lot like driving a car, if cars were nervous and unpredictable and expressed their anxiety by leaping suddenly sideways and accelerating uncontrollably whenever the breeze picks up. Also their shock absorbers were made out of jerky. And they bit.

So I sit on this huge beast named Buddy like a fruit bat clinging to a human’s scalp, and I’m supposed to make him do what I want without reinforcing his suspicion that I’m a serial killer. My options are limited: I can tug on the reins, tap with my legs, or wiggle. Buddy and I must agree on what each of these actions will mean.

The process boils down to what my teachers call “pressure” and “release.” Tugging, tapping, or wiggling is pressure; a typical horse will start trying anything to make it stop. When Buddy does something I want—going forward, backing up, turning in place, composing poetry—I’m supposed to release the pressure and relax. This stillness–relief from pressure–rewards him.

It occurs to me that this is how my Essential, or Big Self (or soul, or whatever) communicates with my Small Self. Self is the Rider, and in this scenario, I’m like Buddy the horse. My Rider asks me to move by creating pressure: unease, discontent, irritation. When I do what my Big Self wants, my Small Self experiences stillness, peace, and relief.

You may feel your own Rider Self guiding you right now, tugging at your head, tapping your sides, trying to wiggle you out of your job or into learning French or adopting a child. Begin tuning into it. Pay attention to the subtle tugs and flutters. Try something—anything. Then try something else. When you go toward your best option, the pressure will suddenly disappear. Pay attention. Repeat. 

It may feel awkward, but eventually this always works. Always. The more you practice, the more quickly you learn to interpret the Rider’s requests accurately. And your Rider has some big plans, friend. I don’t know what they are, but when you calm down and tune in, the two of you will have adventures your Small Self could never even imagine. Get quiet, get responsive, and giddy up.

P.S. Martha started a brand-new “Riding the Windhorse” workshop for those who want to share this amazing experience. The September 2014 event sold out, but click here to join the “Hey, I’m interested!” list. Martha’s events fill up fast–”Riding the Windhorse” sold out in four hours–so joining the list means you’ll be the first to hear about the next one!