The Pearl and the Oyster

You know the expression “the world is your oyster”? If you think about it, the phrase doesn’t really match the connotation we have with it. We say “the world is your oyster” when we want to indicate the world is wide open, that you have numerous opportunities available to you, that sort of thing. But have you seen an oyster? They’re closed tightly, they’re dark inside. They are not warm and inviting.

Are we really saying the world is a tightly closed, dark place? Or are we saying that we’re the precious jewelry formed in oysters, a pearl? If so, that’s not particularly flattering either. Natural pearls are formed when a parasite works its way into an oyster and as a defense mechanism, the oyster coats the irritant with layer after layer until voila! A pearl.

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So pretty, yet so strange. Photo by Maximilian Hofer on Unsplash

I find the more literal meaning of “the world is your oyster” more inspiring because what I hear is the world can be scary, uncomfortable, uncertain, and through the experience of living, you will emerge a pearl. I think it’s a message we could all use more of right now during this pandemic. I recognize none of us will emerge from COVID-19 unscathed, and some of us will be more affected than others. And, this experience has we wondering how we turn out on the other side. Will we be pearls? Turned into something or someone we otherwise would not have been?

I also think about wildflowers in California after fires ravaged the land. Some species only grow because they were exposed to such high heat, which is called scarification. Spiritual teacher Tosha Silver talks about this too. She says, “True surrender to love isn’t just about being ‘guided.’ It’s a freakin holy alchemy that you can neither control nor predict. You are ravished. You are changed. But as you relax into the sometimes unbearable process, the sparkling diamond of your true nature begins to emerge.” I would change the word “diamond” to “pearl” but I think you get the point.

My spiritual practice is about finding God in everything – the mundane and the extraordinary, the suffering and the ease. There is nowhere I can go to escape the divine and that means God is here too in this process, in this pandemic. It also means its possible this pandemic is leading to a change not only in society, but also in ourselves. How will we be different on the other side of this? Will we be bright and shiny pearls stronger as a result of living in the dark, confined space that is the world right now? Maybe. It’s something I, personally, am hoping for.

I dream of a world where we remember if the world is our oyster, that means we are the pearl. A world where we understand beauty and transformation arise from hardship and that’s always been so. A world where we strive to be changed for the better as a result of our challenges and ultimately become the shining pearls we are meant to be.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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