15 August 2009

A Sea Personified

I had a very eye-opening experience on one of my many shelling expeditions to the southern point of the beach on Marco Island. The southern point of the beach, which, to an un-trained eye, may only seem to be a peaceful cape, was marked by large boulders creating a barrier that protected the calm beach from strong crashing waves and a fierce current. The point was a haven for snappers, pompano, sharks, swooping seagulls, and diving pelicans. All were there to take advantage of the massive schools of baitfish cornered into the rocks by the harsh environment. The point’s geographic location and shape attracts so much wildlife that it is literally an ecosystem within itself, but there was much more to this cape than just being a dynamic demonstration of how the food chain works. The crashing waves on the shore embedded the white sand with colorful seashells. This made the southern point of Marco Island a beautiful area for collecting shells, and that’s exactly why we were there!
As I walked up and down the shore, getting up close and personal with the sand to be sure that not one beautiful specimen goes unnoticed, it wasn’t before long ‘til I had filled a small cup with an array of shapely and colorful shells. I, at the time, had been quite proud of the selection of the little shells I had amassed. Then, just as swiftly as this sentence transitions… All of the sudden a powerful wave SMASHED down tossing me into the shore like some piece of driftwood the sea returned to the land. As I stood up and collected myself I realized that the wave had swept away my collection of shells. Back into the ocean, the wave washed the variety of vivid colors and unique shapes I had meticulously gathered out of my sight.

At first my mood was not so pleasant, needless to say… I was pissed. I kept thinking about all the truly special and unique shells that were taken away from me. I even diligently sifted through the stirred up sand as more and more waves kept crashing in, but they were lost and I was forced to accept that. After a few minutes, once I decided to begin a new collection, I came to terms with the fact. As I continued to replay the event in my head I came to a mind-blowing realization of what had just happened! I had come to a somewhat personified understanding of the ocean. I did not “lose” the shells – the ocean just took them back! The waves returned them to the sea. Looking at the situation from the point of view I had become conscious of brought a smile to my face. The vibrant and beautiful shells I had unearthed were like gifts to me from the sea. The shells traveled through hundreds of years of tides and currents to one day be discovered and appreciated by myself. Not only did the ocean present me with their beauty and elegance, it had also gifted me the adventure to their discovery, the excitement of the quest, and the joy of finding a tiny multicolored spiral of calcium carbonate that was once home to a creature hundreds of years ago. From whichever perspective I looked at the gift that was given to me, I only found more and more solace as to why they were taken away. I realized that those shells would have done no good in a jar at home. The sea took them back – so maybe they could provide a beautiful new home for some crustaceous creature, or maybe put a smile on some other fellow’s face upon their finding, or maybe the sea just took them back – because that is where they belong.

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