I was cleaning my bathroom the other day. It was long overdue a wipe-down. I noticed a seashell lost in the midst of other things. It had come from a trip I took to the Siesta Keys. After I returned home, my experience in the Keys made me realize a lesson that everyone learns, but some of us forget. I am good at forgetting. So I sit and write about things.
While I was down there, I went running along the beach one morning and I came across a whole unbroken shell. I was excited. Most of the shells covering the beach were broken. I palmed the shell and kept running, enjoying the surf crash reassuringly but keeping an eye out on the sand. And then I saw another whole shell! It had a sheen that the other didn’t have. I palmed this one in my other hand. By the end of the trip, I had collected several perfect shells. I packed them carefully and took them home.
After a time, I realized the shells sitting there meant little to me. It was discovering them that made me happy. We often get lost in the collecting. Then, when we stop and think about it, we realize we’re going the wrong way. We’ve made a ritual of this action, and forgotten why we’re doing it. All we wanted was a happy experience, not a subservient one to collecting shells. Or money. Or following a guru.
Our actions come from who we are. Our creative process makes life worth living. Not our consumption or holding onto our creations in fear of losing them.
I threw all the shells away, except for one.
It’s the one I kept to remind me to focus on the discovery and not worry about the collecting.