Written by hootenannie on May 2nd, 2012

I’ve never been much for gems and jewels. I don’t own any precious stones, wear no diamonds, and really don’t have a desire for fancy baubles.

I do have a pearl necklace, though. It was given to me as the gift for singing in a friend’s wedding years ago, and while I don’t wear it often (come on, this is Denver), it’s pretty to look at – and last night, I remembered how pearls are formed.

Oysters, soft and tender, rely on their hard shells to keep them safe. But occasionally, a grain of sand will sneak in, and this coarse foreign object can cause pain, rock against flesh. One might think that the oyster would react protectively, forming a leathery callous to protect itself from the sand – but it doesn’t. The oyster remains soft, yielding to the suffering, and slowly, over time, begins to wrap the grain of sand in translucent layers.

The pearl is the oyster’s response to the pain.

I’ll be honest: some days are really tough right now. Sometimes, my parent’s divorce still hits me like a diesel truck, plowing me over. Sometimes, I wrestle with the “what ifs,” which spiral only into a black hole of uncertainty. Sometimes, the future stretches out like a never-ending one-way street, and the thought of walking that blacktop every single day (not to mention showering – don’t you ever get overwhelmed at the fact that you will always, always have to shower, forever and ever?) can be paralyzing. Sometimes, even this introvert feels so alone I can hardly stand it.

I wish for a quick fix, a microwave to melt away my icy problems – an insta-pearl, if you will.

But even if I’m not patient, I’m feeling pretty stubborn – and once again, I’m determined to see this rough patch through to something of value, something of worth, something with a silver lining. I just need to give myself over to the ocean.

And for the record, the ocean has always terrified me. It’s a beauty to behold, but to be in it? It’s too big, too unknown. It isn’t safe. The depths are terrifying, and if it wanted to, it could swallow me whole.

But for an oyster, the ocean is the only place to live. It’s what it’s meant for. And without it, there would be no such thing as a pearl.

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