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One day, I found myself staring deep into the ocean and noticed a lobster, wriggling and jolting. I had not seen this before. I was used to watching them crawling along the ocean bed, either in groups or on their own. Creeping back and forth, going about the business of finding food, a mate or a place to rest. But not this lobster.

I watched for half an hour as the lobster’s shell split and it wrestled itself out of the hard casing then stumbled around in its new, soft, jelly-like form. It looked vulnerable and lost as it sought shelter. Over the next few hours, I was transfixed by one of nature’s miracles in action. The lobster took in water, grew in size, a new shell hardened around it and the lobster returned to life as usual, except bigger and stronger than before.

I felt deeply moved. As I was watching the lobster I kept thinking about all the other life forms I have seen over the years. Cycles of strength and cycles of vulnerability. I thought, especially, about people, going about their lives and then, something happens to make them feel vulnerable and they want to hide. Sometimes, it can be a new challenge that comes their way, sometimes it is a wound or a loss that leaves them feeling as though they have shed their protective shells.

I have seen people try to battle on as if nothing has happened, only to become weaker, exhausted and more vulnerable. But I have seen others who, like the lobster, take in what they need to grow, find the sanctuaries they need to gain strength or heal and eventually, emerge bigger, stronger and wiser than they were before.

Shedding Shells

To grow, they need to shed their shells
The old ones are constricting
Their lungs and hearts and claws and legs
Can’t work with these restrictions

To grow, they need to shed their shells
Allow themselves to breathe
Their little caves are now too small
It’s time for them to leave

To grow, they need to shed their shells
And go out to explore
And once it’s done, once they’ve arrived
They’ll start to grow some more

But in between, they must take care
With their defences down
Their softness makes them easy prey
With hungry mouths around

The shark has learned to sniff out fear
And pick out any weakness
So they must keep themselves aware
And wait out in the deepness

Of a special place
A sanctuary
Away from prying eyes
Rebuild themselves
Now stronger selves
And then rejoin their tribes

But in between, they must take care
They’re fragile before they’re strong
But Mother Nature’s on their side
And urges them along

To grow, they need to shed their shells
So they can stay alive

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