Lobsters are fascinating creatures… they can live to be over 100 years old, they’re fertile till the day they die, they have blue blood, and every other sea creature generally leaves them alone to live their lives. They live long, untroubled lives… unless they wind up in a dirty tank at the front of a restaurant with their claws trapped by rubber bands.
Many years ago I was at a Chinese restaurant and was looking at the menu which was written in both English and Chinese… so I was trying to map the 3 Chinese characters to what they mean. By comparing “Lemon Chicken” and “Sesame Chicken”, I could figure out “Chicken” and then quickly figure out “Lemon” and “Sesame” and verify it against “Sesame Vegetables” and figure out more from there. A fun brain exercise. A fun game of decoding. Anyway, what I think I figured out is that “Lobster” is described in Chinese as “Little Sea Dragon” — isn’t that cute? I was so proud of myself for figuring that out.
Actually, another restaurant story… this one from Costa Rica… a group of us went to a really good restaurant… seafood, of course, right on the beach. We were there for about 5 hours and consumed at least twice as many bottles of wine. And when we were staggering out of there in the wee hours of the morning, we passed the lobster tank near the door. It was full of normal sized lobsters, and one giant monster. One of my friends… Scotty, who is almost certainly reading this… asked about that lobster… how old is he, how long has he been here? And upon hearing the answers, declared, “I’m freeing him!!”
“You heard me! I’m buying that lobster right now, and I’m setting him free!!”
So he did. Not a cheap lobster… but we all ceremoniously marched him down to the water and launched him into the pitch-black abyss of freedom. I’d like to hope he made it into deeper water, and wasn’t to be found back in that tank a week later.
Actually, another side-note… there’s a very interesting/bizarre movie called “The Lobster”. If you want a real “WTF was that?!” movie experience, I highly recommend it. Don’t google it or read about it; just watch it… and… nah, ok, no spoilers.
Lobsters… here’s the thing… a lobster is actually a soft-tissued creature that happens to live in a shell all its life. And as it grows, it needs bigger shells. Multiple times in its life, it’ll shed its shell by a process called “molting”, and inhabit the new one it’s been growing. The interesting thing is that it only grows into a new shell when it’s grown big enough to get uncomfortable in its current one. In other words, the lobster only grows as a result of its discomfort. If he were a happy little lobster never pushing his boundaries of comfort, he’d never grow. Which is all, of course, a bit of a metaphor to simply state that as we navigate through life, it’s sometimes when we push through our points of discomfort and challenge ourselves a bit, that we grow. Correction — that’s pretty much the only time we actually grow. Knowledge can come from the outside, but growth comes from the inside. And if we all sit around getting fat and lazy because life no longer poses any challenges, I guess it’s up to us individually to impose some discomfort onto ourselves and make the best of it.
Certainly this pandemic has thrown us all into an unforeseen amount of discomfort; what we do with it seems to be about the only thing left in our control. And to extend the meaning a bit further… the lobster is most vulnerable when it sheds its shell… for a period of time… between a few minutes up to a few hours, he is without his armour… naked and exposed to the world. The epitome of truly uncomfortable. If that’s the way 2020 has left you feeling so far, you’re not alone… but tomorrow begins the latter half of the year… every day is one day closer to being able to look back at this year with 20/20 hindsight (haha, that used to be a lot funnier) and figure out what we made of it. The shell we’re all trying to grow is a silver lining around a pretty big cloud.. what it all ends up looking like… individually, collectively… remains to be seen.