Today is the beginning of another new year, and my top resolution? To throat punch every sign cheerfully promoting, “A New Year, A New You!”
Not only does this rote & predictable rhetoric bore me into unconsciousness, but its singular focus on weight loss as the sole means to a “new & improved you” is exhausting.
Certainly, our weight is one important tool to gauge our health. But what these vacuous promises fail to consider is that you don’t just want a flat belly & slimmer thighs.
You want to travel the back roads, see new places & enjoy delicious foods.
You want to learn how to surf, ascend to breath-taking vistas & stand in the shadow of a giant sequoia.
You want to feel strong, steady & unapologetically powerful.
In short, YOU WANT TO LIVE, DAMMIT!
But to demand a seat at life’s table, you don’t need empty promises, potions, or pills.
You need guts.
And that won’t come at the end of some snake-oil cleanse or 30-day challenge. It comes with a determination to take up space & live life on your own terms.
And if you need inspiration, look no further than the great outdoors.
There, you’ll find countless examples of animals surviving & thriving despite the odds – including these six mofo’s, who’ll teach you all you need to know about conquering badassery in the year(s) to come.
If you’ve ever felt too small & insignificant to be powerful, allow me to introduce you to the wasp.
Though there are thousands of species worldwide, most weigh in at mere milligrams. For comparison’s sake, that’s about the same as (or even less than) an M&M.
Despite their diminutive stature, they command respect.
They need only enter a room, or invite themselves to your lame-ass company picnic, and in an instant, they dominate everything in sight.
And make no mistake – they don’t tiptoe in carefully, hoping they’ll be welcomed.
In true bad-ass fashion, they rage in like that jackass jug of Kool-Aid busting down the walls wherever they please.
And if you want to put up a fight, they’ll be pleased as (Hawaiian) punch to pump you full of venom designed to paralyze & liquefy their prey.
Because that’s how they roll.
And they don’t give a damn whether you like it or you don’t.
There’s so much one could write about the Galapagos Islands & the awesomeness that is the marine iguana.
I could tell you that they are the only lizard adapted for living in & near the sea. That they dive below the surface & use their strong jaws to feed on algae. Or that they sneeze excess salt from their bodies.
But what you really need to know about these remarkable reptiles can be summed up by watching this slick sumbitch, who’s about to become your hero.
(*cue Mad Max theme song)
In one frantic but successful dash, this little iguana managed to be all of us.
Brave, awkward, terrified, quick on its feet & dodging the hell out of everything thrown its way.
There’s no doubt about it: life will kick you in the shorts, and it’ll keep on kickin’ until you think there’s no hope left.
But in those dreary moments, remember this little nugget & the wise words of Winston Churchill:
“When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
No discussion of badassery is complete without a nod to the cape buffalo.
A native of the African savannas, males average over 1,300 pounds – and may weigh up to 2,200 pounds. But unlike other bovines, this species has never been domesticated – thanks in large part to its surly & unpredictable nature.
Males also carry characteristic horns that are fused at the base to create a continuous bony shield known as a “boss.” A fitting feature for a stocky, irascible animal that has no time for nonsense.
To no one’s great surprise, their only real predators are humans & lions. But these beasts don’t go down easily. In fact, it’s reported that they gore an average of 200 people per year, and wounded animals are known to ambush & attack
trophy hunters douchebags on the regular (#sorrynotsorry).
And when lions think they’ve found an easy meal? They might want to think again.
As these buffalo so aptly demonstrate, when life hits you hard, you hit back harder. And you don’t stop hitting ’til you’re back on your feet.
And perhaps most important of all: when you work together towards a common goal, you can accomplish more than you imagined.
Wood ducks are one of the most strikingly beautiful species of waterfowl around. And their little fuzzies are about as cute as they come.
But don’t let their adorableness fool you – these tiny tots are tough as nails.
Adults nest in wooded swamps, among holes in trees or nestboxes boasting pond-front real estate. But while that strategy can help the wee ones from getting munched – it creates a bit of a conundrum when it’s time to leave the nest.
Unfortunately, there are no Ubers, Lyfts, taxis or other such services at their disposal. At least, not that scientists have discovered (PhD, anyone?).
That means there’s only one way to get out of that box & into the world – and that’s to jump.
Without the help of mom & sometimes from heights of over 50 feet – and all without mangling themselves in the process.
But lucky for these little nuggets, they bounce…and keep truckin’ like it’s no big thing.
When life slams you with its toughest & most (seemingly) insurmountable hurdles – and will it ever – remember the pluck & resilience of these little rascals.
And when you take that leap of faith & hit the ground – don’t forget to bounce.
Female Photuris Fireflies
Though fireflies are known for their brilliant displays, these summertime shenanigans harbor an insidious secret.
Fireflies control the production of light through a chemical reaction that takes place in their light organ. When oxygen combines with calcium, ATP (adenosine triphosphate), and luciferin in the presence of an enzyme called luciferase, photons are released and light is produced.
Each species has its own flash pattern, with males signaling their desire to mate & willing females flashing to let males know they are DTF.
Fireflies also tend to be terribly unpalatable thanks to defensive steroids known as lucibufagins. And while one function of their flashing is to attract mates, their lighted bums also warn potential predators that they’re best left untouched.
Some fireflies, such as members of the genus Photinus, are able to synthesize this steroid on their own, while others, such as those in the genus Photuris, cannot.
Now, if you’re thinking that they’re shit outta luck, you’d be right…but “they” is not who you think.
Because as it turns out, female Photuris have devised an ingenious strategy to obtain this compound despite not being able to synthesize it themselves.
By mimicking the flash signals of females in the genus Photinus, the Photuris females are able to attract Photinus males that are expecting cash in on a willing partner. Only it’s not some nookie she’s looking to score.
After he alights nearby, she’s quick to pounce – and promptly devours him.
In doing so, she ingests his steroids – which subsequently affords her protection from predators.
And VOILA – problem solved!
For those playing along at home, there are probably a few messages embedded in this baddass-ness.
But for us ladies, despite what you hear on the regular, you don’t have to ask permission.
You don’t have to hang back, hope or hesitate.
And you don’t have to “be nice” for fear of being judged, labeled or disliked.
Believe it or not, you can be fierce AF.
And you don’t have to apologize for one damn bit of it.
I know what you’re thinking – a what-the-what?
These podgy, sluggish little creatures lead an otherwise unremarkable life, but they’re also what scientists call “extremophiles.”
By entering a “tun state” – where they cease all bodily functions & curl up into a ball – they can survive & thrive in extreme environments incompatible with most other life on earth.
In other words, once they’re prepared, they can take shit like nobody’s business.
And you want to know what can kill them? NOTHING.
Being blasted into space? NOPE (they just laid eggs that hatched healthy new tardigrades).
Being dehydrated for 8 years & exposed to temperatures below zero? NOPE.
Being heated to temperatures over 250° F? NOPE.
Being cooled to nearly absolute zero? NOPE.
Being exposed to lethal doses of X-rays? NOPE.
Being immersed in supercooled liquid nitrogen? NOPE.
Liquid helium? NOPE.
How about crushing pressure of 600 megapascals – six times more what you’d find at the base of the Mariana Trench? NOPE.
These bastards are nearly indestructible. Whatever life throws at them, they’ll survive it.
Need I say more?
This time of year, marketers are masterful at honing in on your insecurities – the very ones they created with their deft messaging & indefatigable campaigns.
But you don’t need their bullshit cleanses & lifestyle makeovers to be the biggest, baddest version of yourself.
You need only glance outdoors to be reminded what it means to live like a boss.
To be brave in the face of peril & uncertainty.
To be fierce, clever & unapologetically strong.
And to live life in whatever way you damn well please.