Friday, September 13, 2013

Marginalised Mussels

I was blessed to be offered a week at a seaside cottage in February this year. It was a break from 'the world' that I needed, and that brought me much rest and restoration. It was very good for my soul for me to be able to walk alone and uninterrupted on the beach, fiddle around on the rocks, stare out to the horizon over the ocean, dabble my feet in the tidal pool, watch crabs and little fish  in small rock pools, and generally meditate and let my thoughts run freely.

 This photo shows an area of mussel covered rock where I spent some time. I noticed the large number of mussels of varying size - with larger ones being closer to the water line/ rock-water interface, and the decrease in size the further they were from the water's edge. Which got me to thinking......

The larger ones closer to the water-line surely benefitted from the constant washing of the waves, as they were closer to the tides - whether high or low - and the first to receive nutrients. The smaller ones were farther away from the water and would only have had the benefit of the nutrients when the tide was higher, with a gradation of size according to the amount of water washing over them during the day/ night. Which means that those closer to the nutrient resource were more prosperous looking, while those further from the resources did not seem to be faring as well.

Which led me to think about resources available to people. There is so much demand, currently, for 'equality' and for everyone to be granted the same access to and quantity of resources as everyone else. But this expectation is unrealistic. It is evident that where we are positionally places limitations on our access to whatever it is that we want. Our position in relation to resources could be termed 'an accident of birth'. But that does not provide an excuse for resources available to those on the 'front-line' to be held onto and prevented from being shared with those towards the 'back-line'. The position of the closer-to-the-water-line mussels could also be said to be 'accidental' in that they did not intentionally choose where to attach and grow. And neither did they restrict the resources from reaching those farther back. It seems they absorbed what they could of the resources each time the water washed over them - as did the ones further back. But their advantage lay in their proximity to the resources which enabled them to absorb nutrients througout the day and night - throughout the times of tide-in and tide-out, whereas the further back mussels had periods during the day and night of no access to resources. However this did not lead to them giving up and letting go - they continue to remain attached to the rock and absorb whatever comes their way whenever it comes - and they grow bigger albeit at a slower rate than the foremost mussels. I am also pretty sure that the bigger mussels would be harvested and consumed by the hungry much sooner than the smaller ones! And, of course, the mussels are available as food to whomever walks along the beach or is in search of a meal - irrespective of status in life.

I believe there are some principles in this that we should allow to challenge us.