Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Crab

My friend and I were talking about making important decisions and I said "sometimes I can't look right at it, it has to come at me sideways like a crab."

She said "oh it makes you cranky."

"No it has to come in through my peripheral vision."

We went back and forth until we understood each other, but the crab was not her favorite metaphor.

But I like the idea of the crab.

If your unconscious is going to hoard something and not let you see it, its probably not a puppy or a kitten of an idea. Its going to be more like a crab.

Crabs are hard, unlovely, but undeniably real. And, it could be worse. I am not even talking snakes and spiders here. Surely those are in my unconscious too, but I am happy to leave them there.

But crabs walk sideways moving faster than you would think, you can imagine them getting away from your hoarding unconscious onto that beach that is the place of between, of productivity and possible danger. Crabs are used to moving from one medium to another, sometimes living in the water, and sometimes venturing onto land. They are only going to come out at special times when they think they can do it safely.

If it happens that you catch something out of the corner of your eye and turn your head fast, you might just see a crab scuttle away because he is as scared of you as you are of him. But maybe a little bit curious too. So he might pause before slipping away in that hole in the rock and look right at your with his beady eye.

You will know that you have seen something that is usually hidden. And you should pay attention.


excavator said...

What have you seen that's hidden?

excavator said...

My little boy is a crab. I suppose there is a literal-ish as well as metaphorical basis to this assertion,since astrologically he's born under the sign of cancer.

But from the beginning the signs anxious parents look for to see if their child's development is on track were slow in coming. Generally the first 'sign' of development wasn't the gradual step-by-step build-up, but the full flower. In the meantime I'd bitten my nails to the quick.

His connections are made in the shadows, under the surface where I can't see them being made, until they emerge.

Yesterday I was looking through the NPR website to catch up on some programs I'd missed. I was tempted by a link about capitalism and so followed it to a movie review. Not of Michael Moore's film, but a couple of television features. In the course of introducing these two films the reviewer cited EM Forster's "command", "Only Connect".


My friend has a blog called "OnlyConnect"(this is what's going through my mind). Something to do with her Unitarian Universalist church--this is based on a quotation by EM Forster?

I went to a Wikiquote site and found, from "Howard's End":

* She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going.
o Ch. 22

Connect — connect without bitterness until all men are brothers.

* Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.

And so I came over here to visit you and found your post on "The Crab". And instantly I connected this with my son, whose education and prognosis I've been preoccupied. And I realize, my obligation to him is to respect his crab nature, and protect the environment in which a crab can thrive.

OnlyConnect said...

Ah -- parenting is sometimes a dance of onlyconnect and then only disconnect. A sensitive parents needs to be able to do both, but when? That is the hard question. When to intrude, which I have done and said,"no, we need to see someone about this. you are suffering too much." Or, when to say, "it's your life, I am here to talk but you need privacy and you need to experience some pain to work out for yourself how to deal with it." In retrospect, its much easier to see when I made good decisions, when I did not. Sometimes I knew at the time, those were the good times.

I like the fact that you could use the crab metaphor in such a helpful way. I think there is something about a crabs utter difference and secret habits that lends itself to many situations. In this case -- to extend it more -- your son is like a crab that grows a new shell in secret and then comes out a whole new self, while you have been worrying about the shabby secret self of the old shell.

excavator said...

That's a wonderful response.

Thank you!