I was recently walking on one of Seattle’s lovely beaches during the low tide. It has left the beach looking abandoned, with a number of sea creatures struggling to survive the sudden dry land they found themselves upon. I saw sea stars that crumbled up and dried out, I saw a number of little fish that did not return to the water to get another breath of air. There was a feeling of sadness and a bit of despair, seeing these creatures suffer through one of Mother Nature’s flows.
And then I saw something that caught my eye.
A tiny hermit crab who was one of the very few live creatures on the beach. He was left hiding in his shell that was tucked into one the small tidal pools left from the water saying goodbye to the land. He kept peeking out to see what was going on, checking on his surroundings and crawling back in. He was weathering the storm in his own way.
How many times in your life have you found yourself on dry land? How often have you noticed periods of prosperity followed by periods of scarcity that led to negative feelings of inadequacy, fear and despair?
I know I have experienced a number of these in my life. There were times in my childhood when my family literally had no food to eat. I know that scarcity can make you panic and feel like nothing will ever be good again.
But the beauty of tides is that they change. The water returns with the movement of the moon and nature’s desire for balance. High tide will surely follow low tide, just like spring follows winter. All you need to do is go with the flow.
The overarching characteristic of the period of low tide is the perceived lack of control. Seemingly having everything fall apart around us, we panic. We feel like we have no grip on what is going on and are simply being thrown about in shabby boat out in the storming ocean.
The reality is that there are very few things in life we have actual control over. Even in times when you feel perfectly in control, you are not.
Control is an illusion we concoct in our consciousness to aid ourselves in coping better with everyday realities.
There is a Zen proverb that says, “Let go or be dragged.”
While for many of us (myself included) it seems simply unnatural not to struggle and paddle like crazy in the water, it might actually make your life easier to just let go and go with the flow of the tide.
What if life is trying to take you in a better direction and you are trying to paddle away? What if there is a valuable lesson to learn at the end of where that stream takes you?
There are no wrong decisions in life, only the ones you chose not to learn anything from.
So let go. Quit struggling. Become the tiny crab and simply surround yourself with familiar and comfortable things when everything else around you seems unpredictable. Find your shell but make sure to not hide in it for the duration of low tide. Come out, experience life, let it teach you what you need to learn and expand your comfort zone by an inch or a foot.