A pearl of wisdom that everyone should read.
An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could not survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to “breathe” water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand or small sea organism will enter its shell and become a part of its life from then on.
Such small things cause an oyster irritation and pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and breathe in order to live. But it does respond.
Slowly and patiently, the oyster wraps its irritation in thin translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to its pain. You could say that a pearl is an oyster’s response to its suffering. Not every oyster can do this. Oysters that do are far more valuable to people than oysters that do not.
The ocean is a way of life for an oyster. If you are soft and tender and must live on the sandy floor of the ocean, making pearls becomes a necessity if you are to live well.
Disappointment and loss are a part of every life. Many times you can put such things behind you and get on with the rest of your life. But not every problem is amenable to this approach. Sometimes your problem is too big or too deep to do this, and you must leave important parts of yourself behind if you treat your problem like this. These are the times when wisdom begins to grow in you. It begins with suffering that you do not avoid. It starts with the realization that your loss, whatever it is, has become a part of you and has altered your life so profoundly that you cannot go back to the way it was before.
Something in you can transform such suffering into wisdom. The process of turning pain into wisdom often looks like a sorting process. First you experience everything. Then one by one you let things go–the anger, the blame, the sense of injustice, and finally even the pain itself, until all you have left is a deeper sense of the value of life and a greater capacity to live it.