Transcendence Under The Sea: Lessons From The Immortal Jellyfish
Integrating "Scattered Senses" Reading Transcendence Under The Sea: Lessons From The Immortal Jellyfish 3 minutes

Exploring and interpreting various symbols in my art provides valuable insights that I can apply to my life. Typically, I wait for a symbol to catch my attention, then immerse myself in illustrating it. At the end of 2023, I became captivated by the immortal jellyfish, scientifically known as Turritopsis dohrnii. Let's delve into how this sea creature can inspire us to think differently:

Lesson 1: It's OK to Rest and Recuperate

The immortal jellyfish is extraordinary for its ability to revert its cells to their earliest form, starting its life cycle anew. It can do this indefinitely, especially when faced with danger or adversity.

Inspired by this superpower, I can allow myself to retreat and recharge as needed until I'm ready to face challenges again. Retreating enables me to strengthen my inner self, evolving into a more resilient version of myself each time.

“it was a lifetime ago
before the retreat
before independent cells
switched off the light
and plunged back into
a primitive version of self
on the subconscious floor”

— Karien Bredenkamp, excerpt from the poem “Transdifferentiation” in Enigma

Lesson 2: Go with the Flow

In Chinese cultures, jellyfish symbolize adaptability and transformation. Their ability to drift with ocean currents and their simple yet effective biological design reflect the Taoist principles of going with the flow and adapting to one's surroundings.

"That which offers no resistance, overcomes the hardest substances. That which offers no resistance can enter where there is no space. Few in the world can comprehend the teachings without words, or understand the value of non-action." —Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 43.

This mindset contrasts with our action-driven culture, which believes in controlling our environment to survive. Taoism teaches us to let go and move with the stream, navigating through life rather than trying to control it.

Lesson 3: Say What You Mean and Be Honest

The translucent nature of many jellyfish symbolizes transparency and clarity. Symbolically, this represents honesty, openness, and the ability to see through illusions. Being honest with ourselves and others helps build a foundation of trust essential for growth. Without this foundation, progress is impossible.

Incorporating these three lessons from the immortal jellyfish into our lives can lead to a more balanced, adaptable, and honest existence. By continually exploring and interpreting symbols from the natural world, we enrich our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, paving the way for continual personal and artistic evolution.

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