I've been sorting through the stones and shells that I've collected - putting them together, mostly, according to their size. With the shells, the categories increase as there are broken bits, there are odds bits like oyster shells which seem like coagulated masses. I'm utterly enamoured of these 'darker' forms of the sea, hoping to make them into pendants bringing out their salient features with silver filigree. Adding to my growing collection are also those shells which aren't quite shards but almost whole shells with the odd hole in them. I prize these the most from the current standpoint of wanting to sew/crotchet them onto fabric.
As I touch and feel each one and put them into their designate packets or transparent plastic containers, I marvel at the dents and marks, cracks and shards and pause to see just how perfect they seem with however their adventures through life has marked or shattered them. I can envision using all of them in some way. Nothing seems irrelevant.
I'm often asked by people on the beach what I'm collecting. I say "anything I can find." The most usual response from them is "for an aquarium?" and I remain silent, wondering how could I ever explain that what I'm picking them up for, is anything but the obvious aquarium. But yes, as a repository of life, mimicking the ocean of existence, I suppose it could be an aquarium of sorts.
With the stones, no matter how small or large, the stoic acceptance of the weight they carry, becomes something to contemplate with regard to the weightiness of being that we, as humans, also carry. Weathered by the tide, the wind and whatever other elemental experiences they may have passed through. Do we manage this kind of acceptance? I cannot help but speculate, how on earth can one to muster such stoicism in the face of travails that have challenged and destroyed illusions of self?
Then come the delicate, delightfully coloured and intricately patterned shells that appeal to the designer and pattern-maker in me. They are mostly separated parts of whole shells - the two almost identical faces that partner to create life, as they swim, tightly hugging each other, through the waves. The few little ones that I've found still intact, I've ventured to crack-open to discover that they're infertile - too young to have nurtured life. But, while all this charms, what I touch and feel and hold most carefully and thoughtfully, as each passes through my fingers, are the fragments that often don't even resemble shells. If I hadn't picked them off the sand I'd be hard-pressed to believe they were indeed shells. Despite being torn asunder thus, I've seen how they hold their ground - digging whatever is left of them into the sand, often more effectively than the stones. These fragments of broken rock pieces, that also people the beaches, are often well rounded but, mostly because of this, they inevitably tumble down, pulled back by the current, into the ocean, probably to be weathered even more.
And it's the itsiest stones that I just love to collect. Occasionally if a friend comes along, and infected by my ardent fancy of all the rubble on the shore, starts picking up stuff for me. They exclaim "how can you even hold them, they're so small!" But, it's this smallness which I find evocative of diminishing egos that thrills me to hold - to catch their tiny, almost elusive forms, between my, comparatively giant-sized, index finger and thumb. They're adorable and sit together easily, no matter where I put them. They have an ease of belonging that's enviable. But, the process of getting there hurts like hell, doesn't it?