I call this the “Wisdom of Pearls” instead of “Pearls of Wisdom” because I’m exploring how we make something valuable out of bad or tough experiences.
Pearls are the response of a shellfish, particularly of the oyster family, to an irritant. The shelfish deposits nucre, a biological response mechanism like that of inflammation, around the sand or dust to reduce irritation. Usually, humans introduce the irritant to the oyster to promote the deposition of material, which we find beautiful and valuable.
The shellfish will continue to deposit this material around the speck of dust until it is so large that the shellfish can no longer contain it, and the shell must remain open, allowing other irritants to enter. This rarely happens, but it can.
We then remove the pearl, sometimes killing the oyster in the process. There are some oyster growers who carefully take only the pearl and then re-seed the oyster to create another pearl. In this way, some oysters become over 400 years old and produce amazing pearls.
The Human Response
How can we remain viable and alive after we remove our irritants? Or do we have another incarnation – another phase of our lives – after we remove it? In human life, what are our pearls?
Let’s start with the irritants. These can be anything from child abuse to a harsh word. I have one incident that affects me over 60 years after the fact that I can’t seem to disgorge. That is the seed of my pearl.
When I was 18 months old, I was molested. I remember the incident because it hurt. I had enough language to understand words, but not enough to form them. I won’t go into the exact details because this is a PG-Rated blog. My mother walked into the room, and he pulled away quickly, which hurt.
I cried for “no apparent reason” and was regarded after that as “an emotional child” who had “fantasies.”
This one incident was not enough to make me put on weight for most of my life, and had to be reinforced by later abuse which triggered a physiological response, even though it didn’t bring the incident to mind at the time.
It wasn’t until many years later that I remembered it, and I was NOT in therapy at the time. It stood out as an early outing with my sister and one of my memories of my foster-grandmother.
If a pearl is a response to an irritant, what was/is my response?
My weight, attitudes towards intimacy, sex and relationships. I know what’s going on, but the idea of looking at this as a pearl is new for me. How can I make these responses as beautiful as a pearl? By honoring them. By loving and admiring myself.
In a world that values connections, family, and relationships, how can I put a shine on these traits? Which traits are inherently positive, and which need shining?
- Independence – The freedom to go, think and spend as I please, with no consultation or excuse.
- Self-Reliance – Standing on my own two feet, make or break.
- Privacy – Everything is hidden from public view unless I choose to share about it.
- Honesty – What’s the point of lying? Who wouldknow if I did?
- Selfishness – I don’t have to share unless I choose to.
- Loneliness – Or is it alone-ness? Sometimes they are the same.
- Circular Thinking – Without input or a sounding board, some decisions don’t produce as positive a result.
- Resilience – Because I stand alone most of the time, I tend to bounce back more easily when things go wrong.
- Flexibility – My plans and ideas can change quickly in reponse to stimuli.
- Simplicity – Because of my smaller sphere, my life tends toward minimalism and simplicity.
- Self-Contained – Everything remains inside unless I share.This can become a feedback loop.
- Innovation – Since convincing is not required and limits are not imposed, innovative and inventive responses to situations are easy to implement.
What pearls do you have?