Yes, I’m really writing about both of these in one blog article. It may sound like an odd combination, but bear with me.
When I was in Colorado in July, I visited my long-time friend in Castle Rock. She happens to love crab legs and whenever we see each other we generally make a visit somewhere to partake in the adventure—or challenge perhaps—of eating these crazy crustaceans. She is much better practiced at cracking the shell and removing the tasty morsels, but I go along and make a mess of myself just out of support and sometimes from my competitive nature of who will do the best and fastest job of getting through the pile.
Anyone who has eaten crab legs knows that it’s a messy process. No matter how adept you are at the crack and peel process, you inevitably get remnants of the crab meat and splatters of butter all over you. On this particular night, there were two other women at the table next to us who also ordered healthy portions of these appendages and who also dug in to the job of excavating the crab from their prickly shells. No one was really paying attention to anyone until I felt something smack my right leg and realized as I looked down that one of the claws from the other table had made its way over to assault me. We all laughed and just went on about our messy business. We finished our meal, went to wash our hands, and continued on our way.
But on my walk the next morning, my overactive mind—as it often does, started drawing similarities between crab legs and consciousness. As I meandered my way through my friend’s neighborhood, I realized that our consciousness process is much like the crack and peel process—sometimes it goes smoothly with a seemingly easy and intact pay-off, while at other times we must crack through some very tough material in order to open our minds and become more aware of what is beneath the surface. Regardless of the ease, most of the time it still feels like a messy process, complete with shrapnel and debris that needs to be sorted in order to assimilate new growth. In the end, the taste of evolution is sweet and satisfying, but the process is often an untidy struggle.
I told a client about this metaphor just today, and she got it. She was struggling with some pretty prickly parts of the human condition and seemed somewhat eased at the idea that the hard “cracks” of life she was experiencing would provide something good in the end. She understood the metaphor and left my therapy office feeling more hopeful about her future.
Consciousness is often a messy and challenging process. Even in our most difficult moments, we must realize that something good will come of the situation in order to open ourselves to growth. If we do our work to carefully extract or remove the sweetness of life, we can go on feeling emotionally and spiritually nourished by the events that challenge us instead of feeling victimized by the process of being cracked and peeled. However, when we remain focused on the prickly shell of life, we also tend to lose sight that anything good could come from within.
The beauty of consciousness is that we get to decide whether we enter the crack and peel process of expanding our awareness or remain in our shell. You choose….