The joy of finding over keeping

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.

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3 thoughts on “The joy of finding over keeping

  1. Today, I am in the process of attempting to get rid of clutter in my life, specifically my living room – things from my grandmother’s house, cool stuff I have found and kept, shelves and shelves of books I read and liked, and the list goes on and on. I think it must have been more than a coincidence that I happened upon this post. I’m going to profit from this burst of motivation and start packing – books for the schools that lost their libraries due to tornadoes, 1001+ Christmas-themed nesting dolls that my grandmother collected, but I don’t particularly love or need for people who DO love them and would appreciate them, etc. The longer I sit here, though, the more I will lose the drive to actually DO something, other than make great plans in my head. So, on that note, thank you for the wake-up call and wish me luck!

    1. Belated luck, Kristin. Sometimes serendipity happens when we need it, but it still happens even when we don’t need it. Did you accomplish everything you wanted?

      1. I’m sad to admit I didn’t… Nevertheless, I hear your words on a daily basis – to focus on the discovery, and not worry about the collecting. So, I haven’t rid myself of the endless clutter in my house, but I HAVE left a lot of things lie where I found them, instead of bringing them inside and adding to what is already here. Thousands of “perfect” rocks are still in the fields and creek bed and not on my kitchen counter (or nightstand or driveway, or…), and that’s okay. Thanks again, Ara!
        P.S. Physician or not, you are still healing people… 😉

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