Recently a lot of people have been asking me why I chose a platypus as my totem or “spirit helper” or heraldic symbol or whatever. I’ve been meaning to write down an explanation for a while, but I wanted to set my thoughts in order first because the answer is kind of complex and (until now) something I hadn’t really articulated even to myself.

Platypi are cute, and they’re strange. That’s a good start. Furthermore, their strangeness is of a particular category-defying nature. They’re not quite this, not quite that, always on the fringe, sort of breaking the rules by refusing to fit our established notions of which is what. Now we’re getting closer to the heart of the matter. The truth is, the platypus is the ultimate hacker’s animal. It’s like God took a bunch of spare parts, some of which He had left over from other animals and some of which He hadn’t found a use for yet, and decided to see what He could make of them. Maybe even He was surprised by how well the result worked. Instead of being the barely-functional mess you’d expect from such origins, the platypus is actually quite an impressive creature. A platypus is far from ungainly in its element, to which it is well adapted and where it is a very effective hunter. It even has a certain grace and – as I mentioned before – it’s quite cute in its own way. A platypus is something that shouldn’t work, but does. What better symbol could there be for someone who has always harbored a passionate interest in innovative solutions and unexpected outcomes?