Cognitive Pearl #049 Shevat 29, 5775 February 17, 15

Rabbi Abraham Twerski likes to speak of lobsters. The lobster emerges from an egg and must immediately grow a hard shell to protect itself from predators. The problem however is that as it grows in size, it’s body begins to press against the shell. So the lobster finds a secluded, protected place where it can shed its old armor and then grow a new one that fits. Between the two shells however the lobster is naked and vulnerable. All it can hope for is that predators won’t find it.

The metaphor is obvious. Our lives are (hopefully) a series of developmental milestones. Fumbling around leads to mastery. For awhile we feel like kings. And then it all falls apart in one way or another. We get bored or circumstances change.

In between these milestones we shed our safety, our identities, our statuses, our protections, and our armor so that we can grow. To grow we must of course become naked so to speak; vulnerable to those who would take advantage of our uncertainties and moments of confusion.

Perhaps there once was a time in human history that these developmental metamorphoses were easy. Some romanticize the past, as though there were cultures and epochs that welcomed personal transformation. Personally, I don’t buy it. If it was easy to really change then the process would not be as courageous and grand as it is.

But change we must if we wish to survive. To really live. We must climb out of our armor and stumble and fumble as we find a better way; not chalilah because we’ve erred; but simply because the greatest of human moments occurs when we grow. We are not supposed to be so content that we just pitch camp and declare, ‘that’s it! I’ve found my Eden!’ That sounds like misery to me.

To be continued.

Stay warm everyone!