Recently while wading in the ocean, hoping to find shells, I found one. Just because one wades in the ocean, doesn't mean you'll find great shells. You have to be on the right part of the coast, often at the right time of day. You know the cliche, right time, right place.
I was new to this area and not quite sure what to expect shelling wise. I have shells like the one I found, a Fighting Conch. In fact, I have several. But I had never found one so beautiful. The color was deeper, more vibrant, and the surface shinier. I was ecstatic. I hurriedly placed the precious find inside the bra part of my swimsuit, next to my skin, and proceeded to look for more.
I soon found another one, this one a Lightening Whelk. It was different in shape, but again one of the most beautiful shells I've ever found. I popped that one into my bra as well. I couldn't believe my luck.
When I found the third shell, another Fighting Conch, I placed it in my bra and went sloshing to the shore to put them in my bag. I took them out of my swimsuit carefully, still marveling at how alive the colors were; the same, yet so different from the dozens of shells I've gathered in the past.
When I put them in my lap so I could open my bag, I suddenly noticed a pair of googly eyes slowly beginning to emerge from the first one I'd found. I stood up abruptly, causing all three to fall to the ground. I couldn't believe it, but there was something inside that shell.
I then noticed that all three began moving, now that they were on solid ground. I've never found live shells before. They've always been empty. I thought about how close they were to my skin, yet they never moved until I took them out. Now the vibrant colors made sense. They were still alive.
I did a bit of research later and found this at http://www.fitzgeraldscustominteriors.com/Types-of-shells.html:
"While alive, the seashell flames brilliant orange, but fades under tropical sunshine."
The first one I found was definitely the most agressive. He/she/it immediately threw out that meaty arm, flipped over and attempted to dig its way back to the ocean. It wanted desperately to escape, to live.
I hesitated. Now I was faced with a choice. I could let the shell frantically dig back to the ocean, or I could keep it. I really wanted that shell. I could take it back to my condo and still have it, but I'd have to kill it.
In the end I couldn't do it, I couldn't kill it just to have a new shell no matter how pretty it was. I respected and admired all three of the shells too much to kill them. So I picked them up, carrying them in my hands this time. Walking back into the ocean I pitched them out into the water as far out as I could throw. I knew other people would eventually stroll by, and perhaps upon finding them might keep and kill them.
That changed the context of my shell finding journey. Instead of trying to find them to keep, I would find them and throw them as far out as I could, so they wouldn't be found, at least not that day, by anyone on that beach.
Now there is nothing all that extraordinary about this scenario. Well...besides the part about me storing live shells inside my bra. (yikes!) But bear with me here...No, what is extraordinary, is the parallel I drew between finding those shells and love. While I'm sure there are a myriad of parallels one could make, I focused on this one...
When I picked up the first shell, I noticed the outside beauty of course, but later I thought- how could I not have felt the weight? Live shells, are somewhat heavier than their empty counterparts. The difference is subtle, but discernible. I couldn't believe I had missed it so easily.
So what if...just what if potential suitors were like those shells? One could say I've encountered so many pretty good looking shells with nothing much of substance inside. One could even say, I've become accustomed to finding shells that are lovely to look at, but they don't seem to be good for much else.
Then we come to the dynamic trio of shells I found that day. They were not only beautiful, but ALIVE! They were actually filled to the brim. I failed to see it until they all came spilling out of their shells. I didn't feel it, even though they were so close to my heart.
So my question to you reading, and to myself is this.....Have we become so accustomed to dealing with empty shells, that when a beautiful, vibrant shell full of possibility comes our way, we don't even recognize it anymore?
I guess in a way it boils down partially to what I wrote starting off this entry- "Just because one wades in the ocean, doesn't mean you'll find great shells. You have to be on the right part of the coast, often at the right time of day. You know the cliche, right time, right place...."
But even more important, you have to be able to recognize what you find. I really hope that when and if "it" comes my way, I'll see it.
MistralWind, blowing through until next time...