Time to find a new shell

My niece was happily describing some of the sea creatures she and her family discovered during their recent visit to a public beach in Destin, Florida. “We didn’t realize a Hermit crab finds an abandoned snail shell, lives in it until it outgrows the space and then finds another shell-house,” she said. Until it outgrows that one, I imagine. (Read about Hermit crabs.)

Well, this crab has not outgrown it’s shell but is leaving just the same. Looking for a smaller shell, not a larger one. I read that Hermit crabs kinda line up when a larger shell is vacated. One moves into the empty house and the others buy up, as it were.

I put my house in New Mexico on the market last December after thinking for a couple of years that the space – lovely as it is – was too big for me. A wonderful home, mind you; the first I bought just for me. Over the years, I made it mine by taking advantage of the peaceful setting with sweeping views of the western sky, a generous yard for perennials plus a small pond and fountain, providing the tranquil sound of water trickling against flagstone. A nicely laid out kitchen offered up many tasty meals for guests. It’s a comfortable home and I’ve been grateful to call it mine.

But when I’ve come back from extended travels, it’s felt too big for me – especially after living in a room with a bath behind the kids’ “infirmary” at Camp Glenwood. So after bouncing around in a house that’s meant for at least a couple if not a family of four, I’ve decided to let it go. I’ll find out this week if we have a firm contract.

As a Cancerian, home has been important to me throughout my life. In fact, for the longest time I felt my identity was in my home. People would visit any of my houses, more often that not shared with a partner, and comment on the decor. “It’s lovely,” they’d say. Peaceful, hospitable, too.

It’s curious to me that this crab is seeking a smaller shell. Downsizing. Looking for about half the square footage so there is little or no maintenance, a smaller monthly nut and a less of an anchor – allowing me to be more nimble in the world – to visit family and friends more often, to explore other places, even foreign lands.

I’m finding that as I work at making my physical home less important – and it is work for me – the more I grow in the world. While I’ve always been focused on the environment, I find letting go of the shell is quite freeing.

In 2006 I was packing my car with plans to drive 1,600 miles to be a medic for the Glenwood School campers. Honestly, I was so anxious. “What the heck am I doing? Leaving home? Pointing my car at 1,600 miles, driving alone from New Mexico to northern Wisconsin? Aack!” My dear friend Sam, a spiritually wise guy, told me I am taking my house with me.

“When you’re at home, if you need a plumber, you call one. If you need food, you buy some. There is nothing you need that you don’t have with you. You are your home,” he said. His words changed me forever.

I am my home. It’s taken me several more years to begin to own that and it’s still work sometimes. And now, gone again from home for the summer, living in my sister’s garden basement, after rearranging the space and buying a duvet cover to make my room my own, I’m beginning to realize again that I am my home. Peaceful, welcoming, hospitable. Try as I might, the physical environment is not mine to control. As I learned recently at LifeSuccess’s Next Step seminar, I am a spirit in a body.

The hermit crab outgrows it’s shell and moves on. Maybe, if I’m lucky, my spirit is outgrowing the need for a permanent home. Maybe I really can be in the world. It’s so freeing, and I am grateful to be in this space in my life.

What about you? Are you happy in “your space”? If not, why not and what can you do to change it? If so, be grateful. Our type of hermit crab seems to be a rare breed these days.

(Photo source)

One response to “Time to find a new shell

  1. been thinking about my shell home. . .
    too big, too much care. . .
    good thoughts from you. . .I like to chew on them.

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