There is this magical place in Florida that my family has vacationed at in the past. It’s the kind of place where your troubles melt away and everything in the world seems to set right.

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One summer, I was sort of obsessed with finding only broken shells. Not that finding broken seashells is difficult. They had to still be beautiful enough to catch my eye, beautiful enough for my body to bend and move towards it, to put in the effort to pluck it from the sand. I required them broken, though.

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Other years I’ve hunted for certain colors and wholeness. Once, Gideon brought me a wonderful black scallop shell that sent me on a hunt for black or gray shells all week. Other times, I’ve wanted pink shells, white shells, I’m forever searching for that perfect conch shell.

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I miss the beach.

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The broken shells reminded me that even in the heaviness, the roughness, the constant churning of the waves, things that were once strong and whole could still come out the other side lovely. Their edges might be worn, torn, missing, but they still had value. Right? Couldn’t they still have worth in someone’s eye?

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The broken Lightning Whelks have a way of keeping their core strong. That tight spiral is hard to crack. They can take a beating and lose a lot but hold on to their inner strength and truth.

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Still, there is something magnificent in finding a whole Scallop or Sunray Venus or even better a Baby’s Ear. Because sometimes you need the reminder that other things, elegant things, small things, can take the thrashing of their lives and stay intact.

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Which begs the question… do I want my circumstances to change me, mold me, or leave me unscathed?