dance of the porcupines

Ortberg analyzes the Porcupine's Dilemma : How do you get close without getting hurt?

This is our dilemma too. Every one carries our own little arsenal. Our barbs have names like rejection, condemnation, resentment, arrogance, selfishness, envy, contempt. Some people hide them better then others, but get close enough and you will find out they are there. We, too, learn to survive through a combination of withdrawal and attack. We, too, find ourselves hurting (and being hurt by) those we long to be closest to. We try to figure out how to get close without getting hurt. We wonder if there is not a softer, less-barbed creature out there - a mink or an otter, perhaps. We can usually think of a number of particularly prickly porcupines in our lives. But the problem is not just them. I am somebody's porcupine. So are you.

When we feel threatened, we want to hurt others or hide from them. We, too, head for a tree or stick out for quills. But there is a better way. Things do not have to be that way.

Miracle of miracles : Relationship does happen - even for porcupines. They learn to keep their barbs to themselves. They also figure out how to get along enough to make sure that another generation will come along. Males and females may remain together for some days before mating. They may touch paws and even walk on their hind feet in the so-called `dance of the porcupines.'

It turns out there really is an answer to the ancient question, how do porcupines make love? They pull in their quills and learn to dance. Reviews for Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them: Books: John Ortberg


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