Sand & Pearls
I thought I knew how a pearl becomes a pearl. I thought, the oyster takes in some sand and it gets lodged in there. Then the oyster does its thing, and VIOLA! A pearl is formed. While I had the process correct, I was wrong about the sand. It isn’t usually sand, it is usually a piece of a wayward food particle. That food particle becomes an irritant that becomes somewhat permanent. The oyster’s response to this irritant is to cover it with a protective coating, over and over again until it becomes a pearl.
Now the oyster doesn’t have any plans for the pearl (that we know of anyway). It is just how it responds to the irritant of the lodged sand or food. It layers this protective coating on, like a varnish, laying down layer over layer until one day the irritating pearl is harvested or expelled from the oyster.
Fuck can I relate to that damn oyster!
It struck me the other day when thinking about this whole process that the whole ordeal gets kicked off by an irritant. Something that is foreign gets lodged up in the oyster’s business and it can’t be expelled. Be it food particle or sand or God knows what else could possibly be lodged up in an oyster! But this whole process starts off as some sort of unhappy accident. An irritant that just won’t go.
And fuck if I haven’t had a lot of those in my time. People, things, other beings that have become lodged in between my mantle and shell. Try as I might, I can’t get them outta there. So I do what seems only natural. I cover them over.
Now I do not have nacre. That is what the oyster covers it up with. I have thoughts, ideas, schemes, plans, designs. But they seem to serve the same purpose really. So as much I would love to be so much more complex than an oyster, turns out, I am not.
I take the things that become lodged in my life and I cover them over with excuses, schemes of control and domination, so much so that they become a part of me. Literally taking up space that I used to have for myself. Now I am sharing it with this thing that began as an uninvited irritant…forever.
Well unless some person or other being comes along and frees us both. This beautiful thing that I have created and me. We are both now trapped in our union. Held hostage to each other by my shelly exterior that refuses to let go and release. I am sure the pearl has its own feelings on the matter, some pearls being content to stay where they are, and others longing to move the fuck on.
It is said that oysters don’t feel or think because they have no brain or nervous system. I am not sure about that. I mean have you ever tried to pry open an oyster? It doesn’t just open up and let you in, it takes work, and a sharp implement to get inside that fucker. So it at least has the idea of self preservation…
So perhaps maybe oysters are not content, and pearls feel nothing at all. And there are times, like right now, where I envy them both. I am awash with feelings. I am adrift on the seas of myself. Caught in a trap of my own making. Seeing my own laying down of one protective coating after another.
I have a brain and a nervous system. Be they limited as they are. I do feel and think and scheme and plan. I do all those things and it always starts with some irritant that I, for whatever reason it may be at the time, refuse to or am unable to dislodge that irritant from my mantle.
Perhaps it is an ugly process. Perhaps it is painless. I guess the thing that really struck me about this whole process is that it gets kicked off with something described as an irritant. And the end result is a pearl. A beautiful, valued, coveted thing. And before this whole thought spiral, I never once thought that the irritants in my life had any place whatsoever except to irritate the fuck out of me, vex me, or cause me discomfort.
Surely the oyster feels discomfort. Something that wasn’t supposed to be there has taken up residence. And now, the oyster has to figure out what to do with it. And I can so relate to that. What is a person to do with all these irritants in their life? How do I turn them into pearls? And is it really worth all the effort?
It would appear that isn’t an overnight matter. That my ability to turn something irritating into something of value at least begins with my willingness to see that this whole process is happening for a reason. That I have faith that this particular particulate has been lodged in my life for good reason. There are always a lot of particulate matter coming in and going out. Back and forth over years. I can work tirelessly, perhaps with some success, in freeing myself of all particulate matter and never once find anything resembling a pearl.
Or when something or someone becomes lodged, I can do what seems to come naturally: layer on my protective coating until that which vexed and perplexed me, morphs into something more beautiful, valuable and rare.
It leaves me wondering though, the pearl seems to have no innate value to the oyster. The oyster labors to produce this gem out of what began as an irritant…but the value of the pearl comes from others, not the oyster.
And perhaps so too with us. We are all out here in the oyster beds of our lives, taking in irritants and turning them into pearls that may, in fact, feel worthless to us. But are super amazingly valuable to others.
Makes me think if perhaps I might be able to find my own value and worth in this whole process. I mean if I am the oyster, it kind of sucks that it begins with an irritant to me and ends with someone harvesting that irritant and turning it into something of value to which I have no ownership, no rights.
I am the one that was forced to live with such an irritant. I am the one that coated and soothed myself through the process of living with this lodged particulate in my shell. I am the one who literally turned something foreign, not only into something beautiful, but something that is worthwhile and valuable.
To me this is my writing. It starts with an irritant, something, someone or some principle that irritates me. And then I slather on all this protective coating and hopefully it turns into something value to not just me, but someone else as well. But like beauty, value is always in the eye of the beholder…even oysters and their process. It all starts with a grain of sand, an unconsumed piece of food, and it is really all up to me what happens from there…
I can remain tightly wrapped around this precious thing that I created from a hard situation. I can open up and share it with the world. The choice is mine, until it isn’t. The pearl may be taken from me, without compensation, but if I live to see another day, the process is mine. All mine. No one else can do it. I mean, sure other oysters have the ability. But I, I have the idea that no matter what the end result, the process is forever mine to do something that not everyone can do. I can turn irritations into a beautiful pearl. And I can share them with the world. Or not. The choice about what I do with my pearl making process, is and always shall, remain forever mine. They do not call them pearls of wisdom for nothing…