We have been coming to the same West Florida paradise for the last 20 years. One of my favorite past times here has always been looking for beach treasures. The shells here are known to be among the most beautiful assortment of shapes and sizes anywhere in the world.
I have spent hours walking the beaches here, scouring for shells, sea urchins and sand dollars. Over the years I have collected some amazing specimens.
Reflecting on this love of mine, I have a few thoughts about how shelling (as they call it here) relates to life in general…
When I was younger, I’d gather as many beautiful shells as I could fit into my suitcase. Quantity was almost as important as quality. Some years I could scarcely fit them all in my bag for the flight home. Now that I spend less time looking for shells (and more time looking after children), I savor the process more, and the results less. I may take a few shells home, but it’s more about enjoying the process of searching, and less about holding onto what I find.
I’ve noticed that some years one can scarcely walk a few feet without coming across something beautiful, and worth holding onto. Other years, the beautiful bits are fewer and farther between.
When the shelling is easy, as with life, perhaps you don’t appreciate it quite as much as you do when you are presented with more of a challenge. Having “more” (especially when it is easily attained) is not nearly as satisfying as it is to find yourself grasping just a small bounty of beauty after a long, seemingly fruitless search.
Even on the lean shelling years, if you pause and look closely enough, you will always find something worthy of your appreciation, though it may be small. The beauty is always there for those who pay attention.
Just as in life, sometimes the most amazing things can land at your feet after a storm. A turbulent sea can shift things, and can expose many beautiful things that had been hidden.