Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not too long ago I read an article that suggested that the reason the octopus is so smart is because it evolved out of its shell, and so suddenly became soft and free and able to explore. The sudden unmooring of the octopus from the bottom of everything gave it a chance to become all brain, to line its tentacles with tasting and its mouth with poison and its actual mind with all of our shapes. Maybe this is why they need three hearts. Sometimes that makes sense, but then mostly just the one seems so difficult to maintain.

Last night we were watching a documentary in which a man in a jungle climbed a giant tree to steal honey out from under bees with his bare hands. It took him more than an hour to get to the top of that tree, to hack into it and send down baskets of honey to his family. (Men of the Aka people reportedly spend more time with their families than any other known society, enough time to make defying thousands of bees a commonsense activity.) I like that story each time it's told, about pulling uncommon things from surprising nooks in the world with our hands, building layers of serendipity and hard work and magic.

The documentary didn't finish the story, pulling away with the man still standing in the tree, no clear way back to the ground. The way down is never as important as the struggle up.