Hermit and Shell


Surrounded by crabs.

Does the thought make you cringe? Want to run away, escape? Context and denotation are essential in forming decisions and opinions. It is precisely toward the crabs that I intentionally gravitated to escape my mind and the humans…

On a bad mental day, I forced myself to get away, so went the opposite direction of the crowd as far as I could. Along the shore, I slow my pace, have the place to myself, sights and sounds and details captivate my undivided attention (rare for me, as I’m sure it is for you, this day in age). I could be entertained by crabs all day.

Mother Nature has a way of healing in this fashion. Of course, you have to actually be in the moment to receive the benefits. Whether I’m hyper-focused on what lurks around me, alone on a spooky trail, or I’m up close and personal with an insect, my mind for a time forgets what was plaguing it. Instead, I am sitting in sand, patiently waiting for the hermit to come out of its shell. (They make you wait, too…)

I know the crab is not in danger. I am the only one here, and I’m not going to hurt him. Still, I cannot coax him out. I cannot convince him. The crab doesn’t know me though. He knows he is safest inside that shell: it is the purpose of a shell, after all. I’m sure he wants me to go, but I just know he’s beautiful. I just want to see him, meet him, so (after picking him up against his will), I become patient and still and wait. Eventually, I see a glimpse of him. Then he slowly, cautiously peeks out.


I think about the perspective of the crab and then turn my gaze inward. Who among us is the crab, who among us, the observer? The stalker? The abuser? The patience-keeper? The crab came out in his own time, without any pressure. I gave him the space and respect he needed, deserved. Now here we are, side by side, Homo sapien and crustacean. So different. So similar. Different perspectives of the same bay view.

Each crab is unique, has its own way. Each one prefers a particular shell.

Eventually, though, each hermit grows, and by choice or necessity, moves on to something new.

In that moment, I realize, I am but the hermit crab on the deserted island.



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