Friday, February 10, 2012

Sand Bubbler Crabs, or Jackson Pollock at the Beach

Sometimes it takes a literal change of perspective. When you lie on your couch under the sick blanket, you see things sideways.  It’s an ordinary weekday morning, but you can’t determine which weekday without your To Do list in front of your eyes.  It's kind of not any day, not that you recognize. You lie there, marveling at the way the sun through the family room windows plays glorious across the wall your husband painted goat’s-beard-yellow almost a decade ago, and at the way the blue-brown-gold painting you’ve liked okayfine appears suddenly striking when reflected in the mantlepiece mirror.  You live here; how have you not noticed this before?  You remember that you rarely see things from this perspective (couch) at this time of day. This chance vision is a perk, a gift of sorts.  Meanwhile, your tea swallows like a knife as you wash down the red button of an ibuprofen.  You lower yourself back into sickly position. On the television, Anthony Bourdain takes you to an out-of-the-way Korean restaurant in the Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco, and the world as you think of it grows a touch in your head.  You think of the world outside these four walls, the world outside your world.  You think of this: 

The photo had recently appeared in your Facebook feed, this radiating beach galaxy comprised of perfectly-formed sand spheres.  Clearly a painstaking work of art.

But no—and, AMAZING!—these are just incidental balls of nutrient-drained refuse rolled aside during low tide by itty bitty Indo-Pacific crabs, a mere centimeter wide. 

Right now, you realize, on some Singaporean shore clear on the other side of the globe, the foaming tide is beginning to roll in, and the night’s collection of Sand-bubbler masterpieces is set to wash out to sea. 

But, you wonder, what if one of those little crabs is a dreamer?  And suddenly, you’re back within the four walls, back on the couch with your blankie.

There’s a kind of paralysis that can hamper the pursuit of a dream. There are many names for it: Laziness, Lack of Discipline, Poor Time Management, Facebook; and also, Fear of Failure, Fear of Success, Acute Sense of Vulnerability, Major Identity Crisis. (Some symptoms: Staring Off, Writer's Block, a love/hate relationship with Distractions.) Add to the list: Fear of Everything Washing Away Unseen at High Tide, a.k.a. Fear of None of It Mattering.

You look back at the television.  Anthony Bourdain, sufficiently hammered (a job perk) and likely sensing his own high tide coming in, indulges in a late-night burger before returning to his hotel, "only to live on to fight another day."

And what of the sand-bubblers?  Hmm.

You take another sip of tea, which is mere plasticware after the ibuprofen, and then pull the blanket up to your chin.  You think of how the sun has shone glorious in the family room, even when you were at your desk, too busy battling fears, identity crises, and Distractions to notice. You know you'll return to that desk when you're better.  Fight another day. But right now, Anthony Bourdain's jet-lagged in London, and you're going to check it out.

Stunning Sand Bubbler Crab art provided by my children.


  1. Lovely!! You never cease to amaze me!!

  2. yep, I knew I was gonna be sorry if I read your blog. This is so. So. SO.

    Btw, in Frankie Sky, the boy woos the girl with all sorts of little known crab facts... not these sand bubbler ones, but I wish I had known.

    xoxo me