Experience has shown me that everything in my life is a metaphor FOR my life. If I pay attention and just ask myself the question, “What is this trying to teach me”, I find myself learning from the situation.
Yesterday I was walking on my favorite beach on the island of Anagada, in the British Virgin Islands. This particular beach is on the windward side of the island and therefore, gets many of the treasures of the sea washed upon it’s shores, from beautiful sea shells and sea fans, to sneakers and beer bottles. I went for a walk, in search of the perfect seashell. There was a young girl from the UK that shared our shuttle to the beach, and I made a deal with God that if I found TWO perfect shells, I’d share one with her.
Leaving the world and all of the people on Loblolly Beach behind, I headed north into the deserted section of the beach. I walked for miles and never passed another person. I was alone with the magnificence of the island and the beauty surrounding me and felt particularly close to something so much bigger than me. After only 5 minutes I was the only person in sight in any direction- just me and the beach. I thought of my mother and my daughter and wished that they were with me to share this moment. It was so beautiful I just had to share it with someone!
I soon noticed a seagull had joined me on my quest for the perfect shell. He flew right over my head and seemed content to just follow me almost as a guardian angel. Could this have been Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Just when I’d almost forgotten his presence, being distracted by the beauty of the shells, he’d shriek to say, “Hey, I’m still up here”. I’d talk to him, acknowledge his presence, and he’d quiet down and just continue to fly with me. It was almost as if he understood I really wanted to share this sacred experience with someone else, even if it was just a seagull. Anyone watching me would have thought I was crazy- walking alone on a deserted beach talking to a seagull.
The beach was literally covered with sea urchin skeletons, the fragile white globes shining in the sun. In amongst them was the occasional seashell. I kept picking one up after the next one only to find a piece missing on the other side, or the sandy side covered in coral growth, hiding the shining beauty of the shell. A few minutes later I was struck by the silliness of what I was doing. How many times in life are we perfect? And yet, isn’t it the tumbles, the growth and the imperfections that make us who we are? A perfect shell would be boring, as would the perfect person or the perfect life.
I changed my quest to find the one with the most inner beauty. Almost instantly the beach seemed to be covered with amazing cores of big shells, where Nature herself smashed the outer parts away, turning them into sand, while polishing the inner portion of the shell. I found conch shell insides that looked like mother of pearl.
And then, as I was happy and truly content in finding such beautiful insides, perfect shells started showing up in my path. I smiled and picked them up, knowing that I was going to keep the beautiful inside pieces, and that I would share the perfect shells with the young girl from the UK. (As it turns out she was thrilled, and so was I.)
So now, instead of being so rough on ourselves when we do have the tumbles, or when we’re stagnant too long and the growth starts to cover our brilliant shine, I hope to remember the lesson of my walk. I know we are all beautiful inside. By focusing on the inside and from the recognition of that place of beauty, the world then opens up to provide exactly what you need- even if it’s perfect sea shells or a seagull to keep you company.
Life is beautiful and so are you. Thanks for sharing this lesson with me. I’m curious… can you see how the experiences of your life are a metaphor FOR your life? Watch for it. My guess is that the hidden pearls of wisdom will make you smile. Write and share with me how this shows up in your life. Thanks for listening and for being part of our community.