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"shells "

The Perfection of Broken Shells

A couple months ago I started a project.

It started with a broken shell.


I was walking the beach at low tide and found a battered shell. It was once conch-like. But now it just maintained a few of the outlines of it’s former life. What intrigued me is that what remained was a gorgeous shell “ring.”

It looked like a foreign vertebrate. Smoothed by waves and sand. Whitened by the sun.

If you held on to its previous identity, then the object was fairly pathetic.

But if you embraced its new form, it was perfect.

While walking I found 2 more similar fragments. Something about the structure of the shell must make them break apart in that way. The weakest parts crumble as it makes the eventual journey towards particles and sand.

I began to seek out these “sea rings.”

Every low tide, I would scan the coastline. Throw on some sea-shell hunting music on the ipod, and allow myself to become totally focused on the infinity of the shore.

I decided that these gifts from the sea would become my gifts at Burning Man. I would put these natural sculptures on cords, and give them to people that graced me on the playa.

It has made my beach walks exponentially more fulfilling. In the back of my mind, I am thinking of the playa. I am reminded of the gifting. I am reminded of the way my true home makes me feel.

I usually only find 1 or 2 of these rings every time I go out.

The scarcity makes them even more precious to me.

Like perfectly crafted art -- formed by the loving caresses of the tides.

I hold these rings in my hand…and I can feel their history.

They were once homes to creatures. Then they began the slow decay and destruction. These little rings seem to hold in them the echoes of a million waves. The caress of a billion grains of sand.

Their past anchors them to a life cycle long gone.

Their sand-blasted journey anchors them to the timeless cycles of the sea and nature.

Their future anchors them to loving souls that cross my path.

I now have about 50 of these miraculous little objects.

What sometimes makes me smile is that, to some, they’re probably just broken shells.


I try to remind myself not to make the same mistaken judgment about “broken” people, too.


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