The Amphibious In-between
Navigating the world as a sensitive person can be an overwhelming experience. Add in the rigors of living through an ongoing global pandemic and it can feel like you’re jammed in overload. On an almost daily basis, especially when I’m trying hard to keep my life running as normal, I have moments when I feel like I am failing. But in those moments of doubt, I remind myself that in the ancient world the symbol for renewal wasn’t a hard-shelled hero, but a thin-skinned sensitive who could walk in two worlds. In the twilight of my self-doubt, the frogs come to visit.
Across Europe and the Middle East, the frog was often shorthand for the goddess. Linked with the renewal of spring, healing and the fertility of water, this amphibious dweller figured predominately in sacred art. Frogs are unique in the animal kingdom because they live between the worlds. As amphibians who breath and drink through their skin, they are able to move fluidly between water and land. Their thin and permeable skin also makes them very sensitive to their environments. In some ways, frogs are the water they swim in.
Here in the mountains the spring peepers have begun their nightly chorus. Little, oak-colored frogs appearing on the tip of spring, they sound like a menagerie of bells. They are always loudest at twilight, right as the dark seeps into the night. Right now most of us feel suspended between two realities. Neither in one world or another, but waiting in some watery in-between. For those of us who are sensitive, the waiting and the overwhelm accompanying this liminal time can feel excruciating— where is this going? How will the world be different on the other side? There is so much suffering and I don’t know how to help.
It is a heck of a time to be a thin-skinned walker between the worlds. But it’s also a moment that we were made for. Like the return of the peepers, the rise of our sensitivity is a herald of the transformation to come.
The other day I sat down in meditation— in an overwhelmed state of just needing some answers— and all I saw was a toad waiting on a lily pad. Try as I might to access some deeper message, this was what the universe had for me. I huffed impatiently, where was my spiritual transmission!? Then, two words rose to the surface of my mind, “amphibious in-between.” My whole nervous system relaxed like a pond thawing into spring.
We are in a collective moment of deep waiting. The future is fogged, and yet we can no longer live in the past. In this tender moment, sensitivity in all its forms is rising to the surface. Our own individual sensitivity, as well as the vulnerability of our systems, economy and health. We do not know what the world will look like on the other side, or when that other side will arrive. We are in the amphibious in-between. And yet, all the sensitivity that is rising to the surface now is nudging us in one direction— renewal.
Amphibious means that you are suited to two entirely separate environments. It means you can move easily between the realms because you were made to be a bridge. If you have been feeling overwhelmed, worn out or worried recently, this is natural. And, it is a sign of the precious and mythic gift that you bring to this world— your sensitivity. The more our individual sensitivity is highlighted and heeded during this time, the more we will learn, as a collective, to take care of what is so preciously sensitive in the world— our waters, our creatures, our forests and our hearts. The more you let your sensitivity shine— allowing it to guide you towards greater self gentleness and rest— the more you will bring the light of renewal back to our earth.
Frogs may be sensitive, but they are also masters at waiting out tough conditions. Frogs live everywhere from the arctic circle to the desert. They survive extreme droughts by burrowing in the earth and creating a watertight cocoon. With antifreeze compounds in their blood, they can also live through harsh winters, hibernating underneath the thick rind of a frozen pond. In cold weather, a frog’s hearts will literally stop beating, their bodies covered in frost. But come the thaw they will return to life. Just like frogs, we might think of ourselves as too delicate because of our sensitive hearts, but we are so much more resilient than we think.
There is a reason why frogs are emblems of adaptation, healing and renewal. Their ability to be sensitive walkers between the worlds is exactly what gives them this unique ability to return to life and herald the beginning of a new season. Like frogs weathering the hard months, if we simply give our bodies, and our nervous systems, enough time to rest, our gifts of rebirth will be extraordinary.
Some people hypothesize that ancient humans depicted the goddess in frog pose because it so closely mimics the way we, as fetuses, rest in the womb. Incredible things can be born if we just give ourselves the space and time to experience what we are going through. In any way that you can right now, create a cocoon for yourself. Take downtime. Rest. Let yourself off the hook. As Karen Drucker says in one of her songs, “only go as fast as the slowest part of you feels safe to go.” If you let it, this time of amphibious in-between could nourish the gifts of our collective sensitivity, and truly give birth to a gentler, more beautiful world.