Shell of Your Self

What if identity were nothing more
than a shell for a hermit crab? 

A housing for your presence
that protects you until
you grow too big for it.
Something you must abandon
or you will forever live
too small for you own life.

What if you found yourself
smothering as mother or father
or son or daughter or CEO or sailor
or tour guide or caretaker
or friend or foe?

What if all the hats and all the badges
could no longer contain you?

You have just grown too big for this shell.
You simply need more space to be yourself.
What if you found the next larger shell?

One not so big you might get lost in it
or so heavy you might not move it.
Just large enough for the next iteration of yourself.

What if you could feel that welcoming space beckoning you,
inviting you to step in and all you need to do
is scurry from the old to the new? 

Would you inch close enough
to knock against your potential
in order to make sure
its emptiness is meant for you? 

Would you narrow the gap
between your incarnations
so that the move requires
only nanoseconds and
the least exposure to the infinite?

Once inside the new,
would you scrap the remnants
of any previous owner from the walls?

Would you test the spaciousness
with your own echo? 

Would you let yourself feel
the heaviness of it
and how your life drags
with this new weight?

Would you work your muscles
until you find the strength
to move with grace in your expansion
and you can no longer be contained
even in this new shell? 

What if identity were nothing more
than a shell for a hermit crab?

 Public Domain Image from awikipedia article on the hermit crab.

Public Domain Image from awikipedia article on the hermit crab.

Hermit crabs are not really crabs because they do not have a an exoskeleton to cover their bellies. Hence, the need for borrowed shells as protection. When they outgrow the confines of an old shell, they need to find a new, larger one. to accommodate expansion. The transfer is a time of vulnerability temporarily exposing themselves to predators in the move from one shell to another. Sadly, environmental impact and shell fishing have left the lowly hermit crab with fewer shell choices and they are now sometime resorting to glass and plastic waste as shell substitutes.

What roles have you either outgrown or no longer serve in your life?

What new or expanded identity is calling you to leave your old shell behind and find a new one?


I explore a similar idea in the blog post "Who Are You?"

When did you outgrow an old identity and step into a new one?  When did you change dramatically in life?

Here's an example of when I outgrew an old identity, stepped out of its shell, and took on a new one. As a teenager, I experimented pretty heavily with drugs. After a few instances where I literally blacked out and have no memory of what I did, I decided to stop using altogether. I dropped from my circle of friends and refocused my life.

What got you to risk the change?

For me it was the shocking loss of consciousness and the embarrassment of moments I could remember as well as stories about moments I could not remember.


© Nick LeForce
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