August 22

Harvesting Mussels

August 22, 2012

Personal Growth

In the winter, the Inuit—called Eskimos by some—of Arctic Canada have a limited diet, consisting mostly of seal meat and fat. But one tribe varies their diet in early spring by engaging in a most unusual hunt. As the thick sea ice melts, the tide in only one location in the Arctic—near Kangiqsujuaq—drops as much as forty feet. During the brief time when the tide is lowest, great caverns are created between the rocky ocean floor and the ice above, which is still thick enough not to simply collapse when the tide goes out.

The Inuit chop a hole in the ice, throw down a ladder, and descend into the caverns, where they harvest mussels (a kind of clam). They must work quickly, because the tide is low enough only for about an hour—even then only during full or new moons. A lookout keeps watch for the returning tide, but warning shouts can't be too loud in case the echoes disturb the ice and cause it to collapse. Then it's a scramble to get out before the shifting ice closes the escape hole and seawater refills the caverns. Many deaths have occurred by drowning—when a worker didn't ascend the ladder soon enough—or when the overhead ice crashed to the floor.

The Inuit understand that food must be gathered whenever possible. They certainly don't wait in their huts for food to come to them, or they would starve.

We gather love much as we might gather food. Most of us have so little experience with Real Love that we don't even know what it looks like, much less where to find it. As we become familiar with it, some of us wait for it to be delivered to us, like pizza, but rarely does this occur. We have to look for it, and sometimes we have to take risks and gather small bits here and there, much as the people from Kangiqsujuaq gather mussels.

Practice telling the truth about yourself, and then simply observe the responses of others. Some people will have no idea whatever how to respond to your revelations about who you really are. On those occasions, you'll find no nourishment. But don't give up. Keep trying, and you will find people who can accept you. Often it will be just a facial expression or an understanding word. You might have to dig under the ice and bring up small bits of love, but if you persist, you'll find what you're looking for.

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