Saturday, August 29, 2015

Teachings from the hermit crab

Amazon sells shells for hermit crabs.  They also sell live hermit crabs.  PETA asks us not to buy these.
Be sure that you don't buy a hermit crab as a pet.   Here's why.
I was thinking of the hermit crab in a context of symbiosis, how what we abandon may be exactly what someone else needs, how the universe will often send us the perfect missing item, one we didn't even know we were missing.  I felt hermit crabs had lessons to teach about friendship as love, as a source of giving and receiving what we need, no matter how odd or unlikely those needs might be, the way our neighborhood grocer used to save the outside leaves of iceberg lettuce for our tortoises.  I was once interviewed for a local paper about making stocking-faced dolls and teaching a class of teens how to make them.  A woman who had been saving nylons and pantyhose for reasons she couldn't explain offered me her stash, all lovingly washed.  Pantyhose for years.

I was thinking of the hermit crab as an example of adaptive living, something most of us do on a daily basis yet a behavior that seems generally assigned to those considered disabled.  If you have anything in your life that is held together with duct tape, you are living adaptively.  Anything that needs to be jiggled, fiddled, tapped with a hammer or generally used other than as directed, involves you in adaptive living.  A cane, a Dr. Scholl's gel cushion, an Ace bandage, a hyper-magnifying mirror, an eraser, a delete button - all of which are in use daily at our house - indicate that you live adaptively.

Though I wasn't aware of it on a conscious level, I must have had some inkling that,

"Hermit crabs need lots of friends! They thrive in large colonies, where they often sleep piled up together. They enjoy climbing, foraging, and exploring, and they even collaborate in teams to find food."

I see us, my friends and I, sleeping piled up together, like cats, like slightly-lesser princesses, the ones without dowries or castles, like hermit crabs.  We gather strength, warmth and courage from each other.  We commiserate over the paucity of royal prospects and share what remains of our finery.  We take turns wearing the pearls.


Penelope said...

I watched half a dozen yesterday, scuttling about in the sandy bowl of their tide pool. I'll go back today and pay my (notched-up, thanks to MK) respects.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Penelope - Please carry my good wishes, too. I became even more enchanted as I read about them. Always finding just the right size home. What an amazing planet. xo

Melissa Green said...

And tonight when I put my weary head down to sleep, I will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I am pillowed by this friend's flank, my foot warmed by this one's hair, that my right hand will be a tender cushion on which another will dream, my left a place where someone else can climb. God Bless our hermit crabs, the hermit in each of us, who share our food, what is extra in our lives, and accept the bounty from friends who no longer need what they have more than enough of. Ah, she sighs. Sleeping like a pile of cats. This will probably be the most peaceful, most companioned night I've ever spent. Thank you once again, Marylinn, for giving us a new way to embrace living adaptively. I do, delightedly. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - As Anne Lamott this week gave us the piece of bread, we are or are capable of being so many gifts to each other. I enjoy in particular that, as hermit crabs, a pile of cats or whatever we may be, we get to have adventures together. I delight in your peaceful, most companioned night. Family by choice. Thank you. xo