I was talking with my friend Wendy a couple of months ago, and she told me about lobsters, and all other shelled creatures like them. Because their skeleton is on the outside, and rigid, they only get bigger by getting rid of the shell temporarily, then expanding as much as they can, then growing a new shell in the bigger size. In other words they moult, in a process technically called Ecdysis.
A couple of things about the whole process made us think. Firstly, the crayfish are always vulnerable as they grow. They do retire to some hidden place when they get rid of their shell – they don’t hang around in all their nakedness for possible predators – but they only grow when they are unprotected, ‘raw’, and it is always hard work to do this. In fact they can’t grow at all unless they are vulnerable and without their shell. The shell constricts them – what starts out as a protection ends up a hindrance to their growth. They have to struggle to reach their new size, to be as big as they can be. It is work, it is effort.
Perhaps we are a bit like this also – perhaps we too grow when we allow ourselves to get out of our comfort zone, our shell. Perhaps all those times when we feel exposed and unprotected – vulnerable – are (or can be) opportunities to grow. Those times that feel hard, feel like work, because we are on new ground, unfamiliar and unprotected by the shell of habit, can also be occasions for us to expand into new parts of ourselves, become ‘bigger’ in some way. What do you think?
Here is a you tube link to a video of a crayfish losing its shell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDLb5WcSREM This one is not too graphic, and the guy does point out the differences in size between the old shell and the new.
And another to a time-lapse video of a crab getting out of its shell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QIgW639Oog This one is much more graphic, so be prepared, it’s wild!