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Learn how to Slime like a Snail

Admiring, wondering… from human to snail

Based on both an autobiographical film and a story by Kristina Wassiljew and an Indian story

Erfan Pourmohammadi

We’re surrounded by admirable things…if only we’d really pay attention!
The beauty of a snail, a modest animal, is considered almost unimportant, while it can make us admire and marvel at its many beautiful features and zest for life!
We see these special qualities in the special story and autobiographical short film by Elisabeth Tova Bailey about a time when she was confined to bed, due to illness.

Wise Beauty of a Wild Snail

The film depicts Bailey’s extraordinary and intimate relationship with a snail, who calls her bedroom his new home.

She investigates her new friend in dark times, this wild snail. The Snail is a nocturnal animal and eats at night. One night she hears the sound of the snail eating. The snail bites a piece of paper on the table. Mrs. Bailey marvels at this spectacle and starts reading more and more about snails. She doesn’t just look but she sees… sees how snails live and that gives her strength to keep going.

The wild snail has 2642 teeth (other species between 10,000 and 12,000). Their tooth system works wonderfully and recovers when needed. When the front teeth are worn out, the back teeth keep moving forward automatically. She can drink water up to 1/12 of her weight and conserve water (just like a camel). Snail can drink water with her mouth and also with her legs. This humble animal that often goes unnoticed has been around for half a billion years and it is so functional and well-built that no changes in evolution were necessary.

Slug – photo Robin Irwin

The snail only has three senses; namely smell, taste and feeling (touch). She hears nothing at all, so lives in total silence. She can smell three dimensionally. If her shell breaks, her body can rebuild itself, using mucus.

Snail slime is also a wonderful story:

Slime means everything to a snail: movement, defence (when danger approaches, she starts to give off a bad smell), healing, repair of damaged parts, mating/making love, the protection of her eggs. It’s unbelievable that the chemical composition of slime can change according to circumstances! Snails can slide on the sharpest objects, such as a surgical blade, without being injured.

A snail can lift 50 times its own body weight; and when it gets really tough she keeps spitting slime to make moving on the road easier. The snail is a world apart, full of wonders..

Loving snails — photo Miny Verberne

The miraculous Snail can hibernate for years and can lower its metabolism to a near-death state. When living conditions are more favourable, she comes back to life. To save energy she makes a kind of double glass construction (insulation) on the opening of her body before she goes to sleep. Snail has both the male and female sex within. Normally they mate when she meets a suitable partner (prince on a white sheet), but if necessary she can make herself pregnant.

Happiness from being Fortunate with Special Encounters — the Power of Imperfection

Mrs. Bailey feels more inspired every day by her friend, the wild snail, and begins to understand the meaning and beauty of life. This is how she comes out of her sickbed and starts writing a book about the healing power of this fortunate encounter.

The film inspires me to think about the beauty of life, the wisdom of animals that are not seen as noble or beautiful, and the healing that takes place through wonder, admiration and chance meeting. Mrs. Bailey possesses the ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder perspective’, so that she opens up for the lucky encounter with a slimy beast that serendipitously appears on her path — and it brings her healing and inspiration!

That power of imperfection reminds me of an old Indian story…

The Wisdom of the Broken Pot

Wise woman with Two Jugs — watercolour Greg Suffanti

An old woman had two jugs of water, which she carried everyday on a wooden pole on her shoulders. One of the pots had a crack and some of the water flowed out to the ground, while the other was perfect and so the water in it always reached its destination without losing a drop. This ritual took place every day over a long period of time and thus the old woman always took home one and a half jugs of water.

The broken pot, however, was ashamed of his problem. He felt bad that he could only accomplish half of his task. After two years, the broken pot finally got fed up and spoke to the old woman.

The old woman smiled and said: “Have you noticed that the beautiful flowers of this road have grown on your side and not on the side of the perfect pot? If you weren’t the way you are now, these beauties wouldn’t be freshening up my house! During these two years I picked these flowers and decorated my house with them.”

Each of us has a broken life and imperfections, but these are the characteristics that make living together rich, fun and enjoyable. If we only understood the power of imperfection! We may need to change our perspective, adjust our perceptions and look for the good imperfections in everyone! Seeing everything in your environment as a guide to admiration and wonderment…

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