As I laid in bed post-night out, very much present- hungover, I glanced over to the cactus sitting on the night stand. Just as I was going to dismiss it as another succulent that is oh so popular these days, I got stuck on the spines. Maybe it's because my face was only inches away from it or because I was reminiscing on an experience that left me feeling vulnerable but something clicked. Those patches of spines were there for protection (which I already knew) but even more importantly, they made you work hard to get to the source. You can't just grab a cactus at its core--you have to be strategic and careful, because if you aren't, you may end up equally hurt if not more. I wondered when, over the thousands of years that cacti have been present, did the need to develop this external defense mechanism develop. And then I thought about how we humans learn to grow hardened, toughened up to potential threats because we've learned from past encounters. I realized that us humans aren't too different from our succulents, our spines are just less visible, often wrapped around the heart and mind.