“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” —Dolly Parton
I wonder if crabs get scared when their body begins to get too big for their shell. Do they worry about what will happen next? Is it painful when they finally crack the seam of their hard exterior and begin the process of crawling out of what has been their protection? Do they feel anxiety as they search for a safe place to hide their soft and vulnerable skin until their body has enough time to get use to their new size and calcify the changes that will stay with them until the next time things get uncomfortable? I wonder if they know what is happening to them, or if they accept it as part of what it means to be alive?
The month of January is named for Janice, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. Sometimes our cultural celebrations and subsequent urges to reflect can feel arbitrary to me, but from this perspective, New Years festivities take on a more potent meaning. January (Janice), offers us the gift of threshold – it is a time to stand at the doorway and look back to that which was and forward to that which may be, and if we are lucky we can do it all while remaining centred in where we are no.
Yes, i’ve been reflecting on the past year (and the life of a crab), not particularly more than I reflect at any other time of the year, but it seems to be in the air particularly now, thanks to Janice. I realized that I have been quite absent from blog posts and from my online presence. I have to say, it has felt liberating and wondrous to know that there is indeed more to living than posting and hash tagging about said living. Sometimes this is hard to remember when income and followership hang in the balance around whether I choose to share my latest adventure publicly or hold it close to savour and marinate.
I have been a wilderness guide and kayak coach for the better part of half of my life. In so doing, I have many strange stories to tell, adventures to reflect on and the resources to call upon when things get hard. There is nothing like paddling all day towards what looked like the perfect spot on the chart, only to arrive and the conditions are too big to land, the site is full or it isn’t everything you thought it was. In these situations, one must be resourceful, keep going despite how tired and learn to be optimistic about the possibility of another opportunity presenting itself before too long. My dad always said “you can’t be optimistic, if you’ve got a misty optic!” There have been many lessons in resiliency that continue to serve me in my day-to-day.
This year I have arrived at some major sign posts for change in my life. I have embarked on the adventure of marriage, which I never imagined for myself. I finished a Masters degree, which I doubted many times over. I have questioned whether I want to continue with paddling as my main source of income and found myself at a crossroads asking, if in order to continue on my journey towards my own human wholeness, do I need to diverge from my current lifestyle, casting off from the self I have created around paddling in order to move forward?
Like the crab, I think i’ve gotten too big for my shell. I have felt the discomfort of trying to stay squished into a tight shell and have more and more become aware that the process of growth that sometimes happens slowly almost imperceptibly and sometimes happens all at once, rocketing me into a life that I could not have imagined. Amongst the deep grief and great joys that come as often as the ebb and flood of the tide, I have noticed that my shape has changed, is changing and will continue to do so. With each fluctuation and shift I feel as though I can catch a glimpse of who I am becoming. With each crack of my shell, I know a little bit more about who I am, what shape I am becoming and am learning to be this person more deliberately, rather than being surprised each time. I’m learning about who I am so I can do it on purpose!!!
Here’s to new beginnings, carrying lessons from the past forward and learning through the story of the crab that, through the gift of resilience, there is always more to come.
P.S. I can’t wait to get back in my boat for winter surf in BC!!!