Friday, August 26, 2005

The shell not taken

As I may have mentioned a few days ago, I recently got this idea in my head to amass a large array of sea stones so that I can create a "walking mosaic". Over the past few days, I've been collecting these lovely smooth stones, and I've even recruited my kids to help me. Between the three of us, we've collected somewhere around eleventy-billion sea stones - mostly white oval-shaped stones of varying sizes, but also quite a few gray, ivory and black stones as well - all beautiful and all exactly what I had been looking for. Right now, they're all sitting in a bucket on the front porch of this house, begging the question: how will I ever get these home to NYC?

No matter. As long as I was here, I was still going to be searching for more sea stones. So, late this afternoon, when the Husband took the Kiddies out to shoot hoops, I armed myself with my Ipod and several plastic baggies and made my way to the beach. Usually, when I walk the beach in search of sea stones, I head east, where the island is more heavily populated, and where there are jetties to calm the water: calmer water means less erosion; less erosion means larger, more impressive-looking stones. Usually, the areas around the jetties are virtual treasure troves of sea stones, as well as sea glass and shells. But as I said, I already have collected so many sea stones that I'm not even sure how I'm going to get them back to the city. Thus, I decided to walk westward, where the island is sparsely populated, where no one has thought to build jetties, and where the sea stones would be a rare find, rather than an embarassment of riches.

On my way westward, as I was searching for sea stones, I kept seeing these amazingly white shells glittering at the surface of the sand - tiny little pearly white shells, shaped like a clam shell or maybe a scallop shell but infinitely smaller and infinitely more beautiful in their pure pearlescent whiteness. A number of times I stopped to pick one up, only to let it drop back onto the sand because, after all, I was there to collect sea stones, not sea shells. Along the way to the village of Atlantique, where I finally stopped and turned around, I must have seen fifty or more of these beautiful shells, but I didn't pick up even one. I was on a mission, and that mission was noble: to create a wonderful and functional piece of art. So, I wasn't going to allow myself to be distracted.

But when I was nearly halfway back to Corneille, it hit me that perhaps I was missing the point. A tiny pearly white shell called out to me, and this time, I picked it up and tucked it into a new, empty bag. It finally dawned on me that perhaps I could make something wonderful with these tiny jewels. Perhaps I had been searching for the wrong thing all along. Perhaps this whole obsession with sea stones was foolish - they were so heavy and cumbersome, while these shells were so dainty and pretty and luminous and light. But now I only had one. Frantically, I began searching for more. Then, strangely, after finding a few more of the shells, I began noticing sea stones again - more than I had noticed when I was looking for them specifically. '

I felt strangely calm. And I began to collect both: the sea stones that I had originally set out to find, and these tiny little sea shells that I had ignored for so long but that were right there under my nose. There really was no reason for me to keep hammering away at one, at the expense of the other.

Sometimes you have to look away to see things clearly. Sometimes you have to stop looking in order to find what it is you were looking for. Sometimes, you have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibilities of "the shell not taken"....



YogaLisa said...

Beautiful - really.

yoga chickie said...

Thank you! :)

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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