Life Lessons Learned on the Beach

Every day was a treasure hunt on Sanibel Island, known as one of the best shelling spots in the world. Low tide or high tide, from sun up to sun down, beach walkers combed the coastlines scooping up seashells from the Gulf. Billions of them, all shapes and sizes, could be found scattered across the sand.

This was my second trip to Sanibel, and therefore my second attempt at shelling. I realized fairly quickly that it doesn’t come easy…you have to learn how to shell.

Searching. Failing. Searching again. Each time, turning the shells over in your hand. Discerning. What is beautiful to you? 

After awhile…it started to feel like a lesson on life and relationships. Like the search for love and true friendship.

In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was looking for. The novelty of shelling caused me to overlook so many flaws. I collected handfuls. Surrounding myself with shells, not caring about the quality.

As time passed, my confidence grew, and so did my standards. I learned to be selective. Better to have a few beautiful shells, than a multitude of mediocrity.

Sometimes shelling success means being at the right place at the right time…like when the tide rolls out, or just after a storm. Other times it just means being patient…sifting through a pile of broken shells, to find a treasure hidden beneath. But when the sun sets at the end of the day, there are times you have to be okay with finding nothing. There will always be more shells. And there’s always tomorrow.

Every shell is unique, but no shell is perfect. They all have a story tell, with each crack and scuff revealing a part of its journey. Where did it come from? How did it find its way to you?

Most importantly, what’s beautiful to you, may not be beautiful to someone else. What matters is perceiving the beauty through your eyes. Appreciating the perfection in its flaws. There’s no telling how many people walked by the shells I chose without seeing them the way I do…

Only you can decide which ones you’d like to keep forever.

And then, hold on tight.


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