About a week ago our crew attended NDPTC training at our home campus of UH Manoa. The room was filled with various actors from across Honolulu's sectors and the training opened with a simple question:
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
The responses probably wouldn't surprise anyone. We had a growing pod of dolphins, various birds of prey, and, at the very least, a small streak of tigers. This question revealed that we see ourselves as wise as owls, smelly as skunks (at least from the wife's perspective), and having a natural affinity for the sea.
I would be a sea otter.
Yesterday we sat in the same training, this time in San Juan. The room quickly filled with ants (not because we left food out) which, at first, made me chuckle. Sure, there are many characteristics that make ants awesome. They’re pretty much miniature badasses. Rumors (i.e. Google) suggest they can lift 10-50 times their body weight and run about 300 meters an hour (though how they calculate this is beyond my understanding). This blows my mind but… they are still a tiny insect. Where were all their dolphins? Cute pandas? Honey badgers that don’t give a f*ck?
It struck me later how superficially I had initially understood these responses. Our training participants in Honolulu had the luxury of considering this question ahead of a disaster. Our minds could wander toward cute, cuddly, and playful. Having fun. Surfing. Soaring above the clouds. Being fierce. But San Juan—Puerto Rico—is rebuilding.
They need to be strong. Like Ants.
I will resist the urge to wax poetic and extend this metaphor beyond its (likely) original intent, but this truly helped put things into perspective. Island communities can, and will, learn so much from Puerto Rico’s story. I am grateful our crew has the opportunity to hear this story firsthand and bring it back to our own island home.