Wild pearls are formed by a piece of grit getting into the oyster shell, and in order to protect itself from the irritation of the grit, the oyster will begin to apply protective layers over the grit, embracing it, and over time, this forms a beautiful pearl. Pearl farmers deliberately embed grit into the oyster to create this effect. One of the most revered and sought after items for jewellery globally, comes from grit, hard work and abrasion.
I love this concept. That something obtrusive and uncomfortable can be embraced to form something in the end, after some process, that’s valued and beautiful. In Buddhism it’s known as dukkha; embarking on the experience of dissatisfaction and discomfort.
It’s something we aren’t great with generally. We’ll do anything to avoid feeling discomfort. We’ll drown our sorrows in substances and alcohol, we’ll eat away our emotions, we’ll distract ourselves with digital media and television, we’ll be bitter and negative in our speech, we’ll gossip and moan. Anything not to sit with the feeling of being uncomfortable.
And it’s not helping. I think we’ve all given this method a really good nudge and it’s time to try something else. Imagine if we just let the waves of discomfort be. In Taoism, allowing emotions to be enables them to move on faster. Distraction from them, or worse, refusing to acknowledge them actually makes them embed harder. I think ultimately there is no escape and our nervous system holds onto the wear and tear of our mental avoidance.
We need to take a good look at why we’re feeling this. What we can do with it? How do we channel it? How can we learn from it? Not distract ourselves away from it, feeling icky and awful about it even being there in the first place.