Why a Platypus?

I once asked my 8 year old son if he knew what a platypus was.  He nodded and gave me an incredulous look as if such a basic question insulted his intelligence.  I then asked him to describe a platypus.  He said, “I think it’s like a hairy duck.”

I decided to ask some adults the same questions.  They obviously knew what a platypus was, but I got some very interesting descriptions:

It’s a beaver looking thing.

It’s the cross between a  beaver and a duck.  It’s a beaverduck.

It’s the result of God playing a practical joke.  

Before I consulted Google on the matter, my description was similar to my kids: It’s a duck mammal with fur…I think.

This is what I love about the platypus.  To some extent, everyone knows what a platypus is.  In this respect, they’re incredibly common. But when people are asked to actually think about a platypus, a look of surprise comes over their faces.  There’s two reasons for this:  First, it’s because they’ve never really given the animal much thought.  Second, when they do, they realize that the beaverduck is a strange creature.

Do some research on the platypus and it gets even weirder.  They are mammals, but they have webbed feet and lay eggs.  Their bills essentially have superpowers.  Females don’t have nipples so they basically sweat milk when they nurse.  The males are venomous. They fight crime as secret agents on popular cartoon shows.

In short, everyone knows what they are, but they get stranger and more interesting the more you look at them.

What a fantastic analogy for reality.

As such, the platypus is the spirit animal for my writings.  I want to look at the common things of the world, our everyday emotions, all the stuff in which we universally relate.  But I want to look at them from all different angles until I find the weird, unique, and beautiful.   I believe there’s a lot of poetry in the mundane, and the mundane is everywhere.