Irritations can transform us
Ambergris is a waxy substance, found floating on the ocean in certain areas, or washed up on the shore. It is worth a lot of money. Some lumps of ambergris are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is produced in the stomach and intestines of sperm whales and is excreted or vomited. It is used as a fixative for fine perfumes, for medicinal purposes and as an aphrodisiac. It is rare and valuable.
There are people who keep a constant watch on an area of the beach. Even though it is public property, they can feel very territorial about their area, and if someone should find a piece of ambergris on their area of beach, turf wars can erupt. People feel strongly about protecting their area and believe what comes ashore in that area, belongs to them.
It is believed that whales produce this waxy substance to protect their stomach from the irritation of the squid beaks that they eat. Squid is a favorite food of the sperm whales and the beaks are very sharp.
Pearls are also made to cover an irritation. The oyster covers a grain of sand with a substance that becomes a pearl. Something valuable comes from dealing with an irritation.
We all have irritations in our lives. Mostly the irritations come from people. The irritation may be from work colleagues, family members, our spouse or someone who has been rude. They are irritating and we have to learn to live with it.
Someone is like that little piece of sand inside an oyster. We have to protect ourselves with a coating of compassion and tolerance in order to keep our balance and keep happy.
We have many other kinds of irritation and suffering. Sometimes it is heart break or a health problem. It changes us and we are never the same. Sometimes it is our own frustrations because something has gone wrong with technology or our vehicle.
When we have irritations, we live through our personal version of eating sharp squid beaks or irritating pain. It can produce pearls of wisdom deep in our core. We can gain compassion for others, as there is always someone worse off. We learn to value the good times, the happy moments of laughter. We see the pearls in others. We develop a depth of love, forgiveness and resilience that we couldn’t have known without the irritation.
Ernest Hemingway must have known that.