From the outside the Hippopotamus has a rotund and almost cartoonish look to its build, making them seem like both desirable prey and defenseless. And although you wouldn’t know it at first glance, the Hippo is one of the most deadly creatures in its African habitat. The Hippo has enormous sharp teeth that it uses for defense and mating rituals, and copious muscle under its layers of insulating fat. Appearance versus function, living half on the land and half in the rivers, mostly vegetarian but with huge teeth, the Hippo is a living practice of balance. You can be compassionate but still highly defensive. You can be patient but act rashly. You have the power to do anything you want, even if that is simply to lay in the sun for hours. You can believe one thing but do another, and that doesn’t necessarily make you weaker for your compromise. The Hippo reminds us that sometimes things need to get done despite it feeling counter-intuitive to our nature. It is standing up and baring your teeth rather than running away when you feel threatened. The Hippo reminds us that to protect ourselves, to grow and prosper, we must allow for some compromise, challenge ourselves to grow and thrive despite everything else telling us we can’t. It is a truce of mind, body, and spirit to work together and move forward to protect what matters most to us.