Intro: Pounding bass note and a stirring fanfare of horns. Welcome to another edition of Things to Think about. Here's Stacy. The horns continue with a keyboard note held.
Relaxing piano music is in the background.
Welcome to the Things to Think About podcast, where we use fables and fairy tales to uncover deeper truths about our subconscious world. I’m Stacy Casson. Hermit crabs are poorly named since they are actually quite social. When the pandemic hit, I used to hashtag #HermitLife. Perhaps I also was fooling myself. We will explore the idea of solitude in a tale I call, “Shell Shocked”. And now, get comfortable and relax. Take a deep breath in. And exhale. A deep breath in and exhale. A deep breath in and exhale. And if you'd like, you can slowly close your eyes.
Once upon a time, there was an anti-social hermit crab. It had abandoned most of its crab friends and had been living near a pond in the island’s interior. The pond had a few floating islands, and the crab would move when bored. The pond was never quiet due to the incessant insects, the water gently lapping the shores, and the rustle of the foliage. The crab spent hours inside its shell reflecting on the nature of life through meditation. It grew accustomed to the solitude and found itself irritated whenever another crab ventured out for a visit. Then the hermit crab would meditate about why it was irritated since it did enjoy the visit at the time. One day the crab began laughing until it feared its shell would crack from the violence of the chortles and snorts. While it had been seeking wisdom, the realization that it had betrayed itself was hysterical. Its borrowed shell was beginning to pinch and chafe. The crab needed to find a new home. Why had it run away to find shelter when all of its dwellings were never within its possession, to begin with? When the crab recognized its ignorance, it began the search, chuckling with a newfound levity.
Limits are mainly a fallacy. The crab realized that it risked staying small by hiding since its current crabitat had very few suitable shells. Why was solitude any better than being with its friends? It felt a molting coming on soon, so it started the journey back to shore. On the way, it encountered a large cylindrical shell. The crab thought it strange for the shell to be so shiny and it smelled weird. It was probably something left behind by the two-legs. The crab shuddered at the thought of them because it had heard about others of its kind being held captive in invisible cages. Had it not caged itself in solitude? Usually, the biggest monsters dwell inside. Then it giggled again, imagining itself as a monster. As it continued the journey it made growling sounds and laughed even harder. What’s the point of achieving nirvana in a vacuum?
Finally, the crab reached the beach. The clean tang in the air caused it to sneeze. The tightly packed sand felt luxurious as it burrowed into paradise. It greeted its friends and asked after them. A few of them mentioned a treasure trove of shells near a tide pool. The crab noted more of the strange shiny shells as it scampered in the sea foam. Should it take up residence in one of these unnerving objects? It noticed a large crab rushing toward one of those shells, pincers raised and eye stalks waving. “I’ll take that as a sign,” and continued to hurry to the tide pool. A new sensation stretched the crab in a novel way causing it to light up and smile. It didn’t think it would be possible to find a carapace that could contain this joy. When it reached the tide pool, it laughed bitterly. There were only tiny shells here. Nothing that would suffice for the crab. “What did you expect? Did you think a rainbow would alight and land on your perfect shell?” The hermit crab laughed at itself.
The little crab was sobbing. “What’s wrong?” asked the larger hermit crab. “I wanted one of the cool shiny shells, and that big crab almost beat me up. I ran away.” “Come with me,” said the elder crab and led the little crab to the tide pool. There are so many beautiful shells to choose from. The little crab reviewed the choices and settled on a small conch. “Thank you, oh thank you!” The hermit crab smiled and noticed shadows on the sand. Gulls! “Take cover!” The little crab tucked into its shell. It would eventually need to find a safer place to molt and upgrade. The larger crab scuttled towards the dunes hoping to draw the gulls away from the smaller crab. One swooped down, and the hermit crab drew itself in tightly. It felt a lifting sensation and tightened its stomach muscle to keep itself safe. The absurdity of its current predicament caused it to laugh uproariously. This startled the seagull and it dropped its prize. The crab and shell landed in seagrass and it was disoriented as it tumbled down the dune. Once the spinning stopped, the crab rushed to find shelter and burrowed into the dune. A loud click startled the crab as it hit something. “I’m so sorry” it apologized profusely. There was silence. It knocked on the hard surface and was surprised to find it hollow. It cleared the sand around it and found the perfect next dwelling.
Home is where the heart is. We are born alone and die alone, but being alone is sometimes a choice. I am reminded of an oft-quoted proverb from the African continent, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Are you ready to leave your shell? And now take a deep breath in, and exhale. A deep breathe in, and exhale. A deep breathe in, and exhale. And when you are ready, wiggle your toes, wiggle your fingers, and slowly open your eyes.
Closing: Closing jazzy keyboard and thrumming bass. I hope you enjoyed today's segment. Tell a friend. See you next time. Music fades.