Wednesday, February 24, 2016

13. HOW A LOBSTER GROWS

I know lobster by its flavor as much as I know it by its appearance. I only know it by its appearance because I have seen them in tanks at the restaurants where I go to taste them, and I have had them delivered to my front porch after a cross-country airline journey from the east coast. We don’t eat lobster a lot these days, not just because we live in the desert of Utah, but also because my sister is allergic to it.  She loves lobster!  But it obviously does not love her because it will kill her at first taste.  Libby says that if she was on death row and had to choose her last meal it would be lobster with strawberry pie for dessert.  The lobster and strawberries would likely kill her before the authorities had to, but she would die happy.


Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski is a world renowned Psychiatrist who is an expert on many things, the most notable of which is his understanding of humans with addictions. He’s published over 60 books, has all sorts of accolades, and besides he looks and sounds “sage”. He is a good storyteller, among other gifts, and if you have a few minutes you should take a look at some of his YouTube snippets. They are short and inspiring. 
I was watching his short talk on “stress” and that’s where I learned how the lobster grows.  He gets uncomfortable in his shell, hunkers under a rock for protection from predators, sheds his unyielding shell and grows a new one.  He does this multiple times in his life span.  It would be a curious thing for me to scuba dive and find all those empty lobster shells at the bottom of the sea.
Dr. Twerski said this:

"The stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable....Times of stress are also times that are signals for growth, and if we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity."
The generation before me was mighty familiar with discomfort.  World wars, prohibitions, Great Depressions…these were common threads for all Americans.  If you lost your husband in the war, well, so did the woman next to you on the bus.  If your father was gone looking for work in some other city, so were all the other fathers of your classmates.  A sandwich with plain old butter, and only butter, was cause for saying Grace at lunchtime. Discomfort was the order of the day.  And that discomfort taught our grandparents to be dutiful hard workers who did not have excessive expectations. Their sacrifices were great, and their accomplishments were greater. 
A while ago, when I was teaching a song to the young children in our church,  one of the young boys was particularly wiggly.  I asked what was bothering him.  I can’t even remember his actual response, but I asked him if he were in real pain or just uncomfortable. He looked at me, puzzled.  I paused from my music teaching to ask the kids if they understood the difference between pain and discomfort.  A few of the older ones knew, and responded.  But most of them had not yet learned the difference. It was an interesting conversation, and got me to thinking about Rabbi Twerski’s lobster story.

Our magnificent daughter, Kate, is in the process of molting right now.  She is hunkered under a figurative rock, exposed and a little nervous, while she grows a new shell.  She awaits news regarding applications to doctoral programs.  The odds are remarkably against her, according to statistics.  But we who know her well think the odds are stunningly in her favor.  But we will see.  I have been peeking in on her, there under her figurative rock waiting to grow her new expanded shell, and I am amazed at her patience, trust, and good humor.  Sometimes I think the one thing that keeps her sane are the regular visits from the tiny lobster nieces and nephews who jump into her arms when they come visit.  (I thank the Lord of all lobsters for those little ones!)
The thing that brought her to this place was... you got it... discomfort! Kate represents all of us who, in the capacity of our humanness, would rather just float along in cool ocean waters in the same old shell.  But her personal growth, inside that shell, had brought her to the place of discomfort…with her current employment, with her life situation, with things only she can tell you.  I imagine her thin little lobster antennae searching, searching for solutions that might not require that shell molting.  But she is destined for deeper, colder, more magnificent waters, and as much as I’d like to live in the past, I know the future is our destiny…is her destiny…and so I step back and watch her in her discomfort as she waits.  She has her plan B in place, and perhaps that is supposed to be her plan A but we don’t know it yet.  Either way, I have great confidence in her and in the Lord in whom she places her trust.
I HOPE that I will allow myself to differentiate between my own discomforts and real pain.  I am aging, and my awareness of the condition of my aging body, without the luxury of shedding my shell, has caused me to be more hesitant when taking medications to relieve my aches and pains.  Lately I find myself trying to reserve that Tylenol for when I can’t get to sleep because my hips hurt. I think it would be a worthy prayer to ask the maker of my body and my soul to help me determine what is discomfort and what is pain.  If it is discomfort, help me, Lord, to know what to shed.
Click HERE to see Rabbi Dr. Twerski's short message on stress.
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During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day.  I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity.  This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks Ma! I'll try to be the best lobster I can! Thanks for giving me a safe place to be while I figure out this whole shell situation :)

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  2. Kate is an amazing woman who has the ability to touch hearts and change lives. Prayers are ascending from our hearts that her Plan A comes to full fruition. We love you Kate Connors. We believe!!

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  3. Kate is an amazing woman who has the ability to touch hearts and change lives. Prayers are ascending from our hearts that her Plan A comes to full fruition. We love you Kate Connors. We believe!!

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  4. I adore Kate and appreciate her unabashed loved of my little lobsters! We are rooting for her in whatever the next adventure is.

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