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7/23/06
Broken Shell

Dear Kim,

I love shells. I find them incredibly beautiful. I love the fact that there is an inside and an outside, that the outside is often striated and rough and the inside is pearly and smooth. And even if you wash them really well, they usually retain some smell of the sea.

I love the fact that they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and that they don't look or feel like anything else. They are uniquely themselves. It is as if they are their own species.

On some recent walks, I have found myself picking up shells. Today, I looked at the growing pile on the dining room table and thought, you've got quite a collection going on here. What will you do with these?

Then I thought, I will give them to some friends as well as to everyone who works in the office so they can share part of my trip. So I started to pick out the biggest, the most beautiful.

Then I wondered, why am I doing that? Why, in my walks, do I look for the biggest and the most beautiful?

There are so many broken shells on the beach.

I have much more in common with them than I do with the biggest and the most beautiful. On some days, when I experience my fears and limitations, I can feel broken. I wonder if most of us don't feel that way.

I have been patched back together—in some cases, literally stitched together—many times.

This has mostly worked.

I am functional.

I am grateful.

I am here.

I am not conscious of a lot of holes. But I am aware that I am patched together. And while I may feel fairly cohesive, I am still aware of the cracks.

I work a lot of the time with people with disabilities whose cracks I embrace because it is who they are and represents their humanness and individuality.

So today, I had a thought I will collect broken shells for a few days to see how that feels and looks. And for a few days, instead of trying to find the most beautiful shells, I will look for the most average, the most mundane. And to see if I can extend my heart and excitement towards them the way I do towards the exceptional.

(Kim: What a great idea to embrace the broken shells. Shells that are turning into sand. Shells that have a more unique shape. And shells that each have their own history as they were swept against the rocks.)

Later,

Joan

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006

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