Seashell Philosophy by She: Volume 7 in a Series
Note: Been a while since I’ve written one of these because it takes getting a break by the seashore to get the inspiration for these pieces. Rare.
Summer 2018 Setting
The summertime weather here in south Florida is intense because we get the double whammy of high temperatures coupled with high humidity that can envelope us like a heavy wool coat but the difference being that it’s wet and nonstop with its intensity.
As I’ve been a mother for over a decade now, I’ve found that our best chance for survival outdoors when in town here is to head for the coast immediately after the sun rises to enjoy the ocean before the sand becomes lava-hot and the eventual afternoon thunderstorm squalls move in.
The Tide Retreating
When I arrived at the shoreline a couple days ago, my children found that the high tide had already crested and so the ocean would start its gradual retreat as we sojourned over the next few hours at the shoreline.
What’s exciting about this reversal of water flow is that one can get a glimpse of the shells, rocks and other small trinkets that the sea can give up any given day. There’s a thrill in watching the water retreat every few seconds while also yielding a new batch of goodies–the trick is to strike and pick up what you see and like before the next breaking wave takes it away.
Nature Reflecting Us
During a time in our nation when any given media outlet online or print is exposing all the negative shades of our current social or political status, it’s liberating to stand between the barrier of land and water and to feel the force of the inevitable coupled with the unexpected. “The unexpected” being anything and everything that our offshore Gulf Stream can depose on the receding shoreline. “The inevitable” being the waves, propelled by the currents, ushered by the moon tidal forces and so forth.
Here’s the good news: we’re all so different. There is no “black” and “white”. It turns out that there are countless textures, shapes, colors and differing weights to the shells and rocks I sifted through my fingers as the waves broke against my legs with my feet sinking into the shifting sand at the magical barrier where land and sea overlap. How comforting when nature reflects the truth about who we are: an amazing array of physical people with unique personalities!
What Is Our Place?
As I selected a variety of empty shells, sea glass and bits of rock I felt a rush of anger at the idea that our nation could ever fall into the trap of writing off sections of people based on their looks, pasts or perceived biases. Don’t we realize that what makes our world so beautiful are the differences that we all represent?
When we really take in the nature around us on Earth, it’s devastating to recognize how we’ve collectively cheated ourselves into thinking that we as humans are so caustic as to write off entire cultures, nations or people in general based on the color of our skin or our socio-economic backgrounds. What gives?
The Sorting of the Truth
Every time that I return from the Atlantic Ocean shore with a pocket or bag full of shells, rocks and other artifacts I immediately put the finds into a bucket full of water at home and have fun sorting them with my children—even alone if the kids aren’t interested.
Here’s what I’ve found over the decades of practicing this ritual: every fiber of my being senses that nature mimics life incarnate and so all these splendid varieties of physical representations of what has trespassed our ocean system soothes my frazzled nerves. The truth is that we all have more in common with each other than we realize despite our differences.
Go Out: Pick Up Some Rocks or Shells!
As dull as it may seem to some folks, would encourage anyone who lives by a body of water (even lakes and streams) to enjoy the simplicity found in picking up natural deposits like rocks, driftwood, shells and countless other things yielded by these various bodies of water.
It’s a therapeutic exercise in harvesting what’s available and plentiful but it’s also a great lesson in recognizing individuality. There’s an amazing diversity out there in our geology and yet it’s a strong reminder of how we as people are full of different facets and hues—just like the handful of granite and quartz pieces I was able to retrieve from the Atlantic earlier this week.