Jean Croker Petke



When I was at the beach I bought a boat-shaped cracker dish. Rolled up in the boat was a tea towel with this message:

Surrounding those words, were outlines of oyster shells.  Very beachish, to say the least. Later, I found the same cracker boat at another store, but without the towel. It just wasn’t the same.

So, of course, I’ve been pondering since then.

I know that a tiny piece of sand can be transformed into a pearl by the oyster. I’m not sure exactly how this happens, but it happens, regularly.

We have our own kind of grittiness. Some every day, most likely. You may not call it grit. Perhaps it’s an irritant or a frustration or an aggravation or an inconvenience. It really doesn’t matter what you call it.

It’s like a pebble in your shoe. Sometimes it hurts just a little, sometimes a lot. And it’s not always convenient to stop and remove it. I’m certainly not suggesting you leave it in your shoe, hoping for a pearl. You’ll only end up with a sore foot.

I’ve done a little research on oysters just for you. I learned a few things:

Not all oysters create pearls

The average oyster takes 3 – 6 years to produce a jewelry-quality pearl

The pearl-making process begins with an irritant (like a grain of sand) entering the oyster’s shell. The oyster covers the irritant with layers of nacre (the same substance as the shell) to protect itself from the irritant.

The shape of the irritant determines the shape of the pearl.

So what does that have to do with us?

First of all, name your irritant. Is it your kids, your spouse, a customer, a friend, a malfunctioning car, a failure, disappointments in your self or others? What is it really? For this exercise, just pick one. You can deal with the others later.

Here are some thoughts on pearl-producing irritants:

You have a choice about how to handle the irritant. Remember, not all oysters make pearls though they probably all have irritants. You can continue to grouse and complain and carry-on about your irritant. One can get a lot of attention that way, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Or you can begin to look for a pearl-producing solution to your situation.

Pearl production takes a long time, so be patient with your process of changing your irritant into something more positive and beautiful than what you currently have.

Like the pearl, how can you protect yourself from the irritant? Allowing personal damage doesn’t solve the problem. Perhaps you need to step away, get some space, gain some perspective, seek some outside help, change your vision or expectations,  or change your response to the irritant. These are just suggestions, but I believe solutions are possible rather than allowing the irritant to continue festering in a way that will never produce a pearl.

You, and the relationship you have with your irritant, will determine the shape of the pearl you produce. Your situation is unique to you, so the results of your process will create an outcome that works for you. Pearls are possible, but your pearl shape will be yours alone.


How we handle the grit in our lives

determines the pearls we will harvest.


Until next Tuesday . . .






2 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Pat Bolan -

    Reminds me of a church sign I saw recently: “We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.”

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