What we can learn from an oyster.

National Oyster Day! Who knew.

 A most interesting bivalve indeed. Many a tale has been told about the oyster. Some true, some hopeful, and some made up by romance novelist. From a culinary standpoint oysters fall into the category of love ’em or hate ’em. People’s reactions to these curious delights vary. I for one have never eaten an oyster. But only due to an allergy. So I cannot weigh in on the edibility of the oyster. However, as a June baby my birthstone is the iridescent pearl, which makes me pro-oyster (for jewelry purposes at least). So on that note, let’s discuss what makes the oyster today’s topic
Here are some other interesting oyster facts:
🌊  The largest oyster-producing body of water in the world is located in Chesapeake Bay on the east coast of the U.S.
🌊. Almost two billion pounds of oysters are eaten each year.

🌊. In the U.S., east coast oysters tend to be smaller, milder and saltier. West coast oysters are creamy and sweet.

🌊. Oyster shells high calcium content make them ideal garden soil fertilizer 

🌊. Only one out of every 10,000 oysters will produce a pearl.

Now, as I usually do, I will apply a life application from our liquid-y friend the oyster. Let’s start with the easy and obvious one. Pearl Production
As noted in the facts above, only one out of every 10,000 oysters will actually produce a pearl. Somehow the cartoons of my youth mislead me on this little nugget. It turns out pearl oysters, or pinctada, are part of the pteriidae family (neither of which am I confident in my pronunciation). These oysters are actually found deep in the ocean, and are not harvested for their meat. The pearls they make are what draw us to them. As most of us learned in elementary school the pearl is created due to some irritant being lodged in the pearl. In an effort to get the irritating speck out, the oyster covers it by secreting nacre, or mother-of-pearl, the substance that forms the inside lining of the shell. After several years a pearl is formed, and many a jewelry store is happy. Now the parallel here is pretty easy to see. Like the oyster, we are bound to have irritants and difficulties and we are promised that there will be pearls as a reward.  

Bad hair cuts and mustard stains come into our lives and cause irritation and minor setbacks. Irritating yes, but pearl material…I’m not sure. However, divorce and disease may come in and cause major havoc and life altering moments in time. Pearl worthy? Definitely, but to tell you that a pearl of wisdom can be gleaned from any situation is (in my opinion) a bit ludicrous.  

For someone fighting to hang on to their sanity while the winds of life whip violently around their head, the pearl doesn’t matter. A starving man wouldn’t search the ocean for a pearl oyster. He needs food. The same applies to us. While it is absolutely true that life’s difficulties can form some truly amazing outcomes, we are generally not searching for it. We are trying to survive.  

When a pearl is being created within an oyster, the oyster must still go on with life. The oyster doesn’t stop living in celebration of a future pearl. The oyster simply works around it. The same way we must. Life can hand us some truly awful moments. In those dark moments, it’s more important for us to know that we are going to get through than it is to know we will have a pearl. That’s where the oysters other gift comes into play.

Oysters have one more superpower that I think we can apply to our lives. Adaptability.

Oysters are named for the specific region they are harvested from. Each region’s oyster is identifiable to that region by size, and taste. The reason for this is the oysters adaptability to its surroundings. Oysters literally take on the characteristics of the body of water they are living in. Along with being great pearl producers, oysters are super filters. One oyster can filer about 50 gallons of water daily. (Let’s all take a moment to thank the oyster reefs worldwide) It is through that filtration that the oyster takes in the unique characteristics of the water they are in. The oyster’s primary job is filtration, whether it is forming a pearl or not. Oysters take in all that is around them, and filter out what isn’t good for them.  

What if we did a little more filtering?

What if instead of allowing the pressures of life, the opinions of others, and the memories of our own shortcomings to overtake us; we only allowed the things that built us up to remain. What if when we receive crippling news, that rocks our foundation, we filter out the unnecessary static of life?  

Can you see the strength in filtration? Actively choosing to only accept what we need is the key to overcoming anything. While some events may come into our life that steals the show, we will always have a million other things whirling about vying for our attention simultaneously. Usually we try to handle it all. Multi taskers until the end. What I’m suggesting here, is a new way to approach your day. Filter out the unnecessary. The unimportant stuff that adds stress or takes you away from what you love. No apologies, no excuses to be given. Just as the ocean gets no explanation for what the oyster decided is junk, your life’s junk simply gets filtered out. I can’t tell you what to filter. You’ll know. I can only hope that like me, you will learn how to let your life’s waters flow through you rather than overtake you. That you will filter out more junk, and focus on the things that matter. And in the end, we may both be surprised by the pearl we have created all while we focused on living our life in spite of our troubles and finding healthy ways to adapt to our surroundings.


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