Seashell Hunter

When I think about the novice seashell hunter I think imperfection. I think about the feeling an amateur gatherer earns when they meet toe to toe with an almost perfect shell. They have to pick it up for fear another shell may not present itself. The novice hunter finds themselves juggling sea shells that are half broken, hoping their most perfect, intact and whole find of the day doesn’t slip through the cracks in their fingers. It’s not until after many walks along the shoreline that they realize better shells will come and that, although the shell with the crack may have a shiny edge, it’s piece is missing – been swallowed up by the sand and salt. Sometimes the piece is not far. It’s easy to find, mend together, and, in turn, made into art. But as time shifts, as the ocean churns over new shells; the amateur sifter has grown tired of juggling the imperfect shells. They’ve lost too many of the pure, whole shells through the slits of their fingers. Instead the now advanced shell seeker walks themselves down to where the ocean waves break on the sand. They breathe in the salt, listen closely to the rolling waves as foam gathers at their feet, pulling and pushing shells into the depths of the blue ocean. The gatherer stands facing the glare on the horizon. The blue sea shimmers back. The once amateur gatherer knows now that they may not even leave the shoreline with a single shell. There’s a certain understanding. An agreement if you will. An agreement that each shell is to its own. That what is imperfect to some may be perfect to others. The promise to trust the tides, the churn of the sea, to never carry and collect more than you can handle for fear you may not find your perfect shell. Because as we fill our palms, the slits between our fingers grow wider, we lose more of the good shells, and less of the shells that appeared to shine at first sight. So if you leave the shore line with no shells it’s not because there were none, it’s because you no longer want to lose your perfect through the cracks in your fingers to the deep and unknowing blue churning sea.

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