I started writing this blog while in Hawaii this past week. My friends were running around playing with their two adorable children while we waited for the luau to begin. I sat on the beach, soaking in the salty ocean air and listening to the waves crash on the nearly vacant beach. I stood up and walk along the edge of the ocean, the tide coming in higher and higher. I looked down and saw a hermit crab. Just the day before, my friend had pointed one out to me; it couldn’t have been bigger than a quarter. I stared down at the hermit crab, and wondered how many I had passed by in the 15 minutes I had walked the shore. I sat down, and in the warm Hawaiian sand, I thought about hermit crabs, which may sound ridiculous to some, but to me, there is poetry in everything.
I wondered how many times I had walked by someone, never realizing they live a life not unlike mine to a degree. The idea that each and every single person you walk by has had ups and downs, tragedies and successes. And I, walked on as if I hadn’t even seen them, as if they, too, were like a hermit crab, lost amongst the shore.
I enjoy getting to know strangers while traveling, I want to know their stories and sometimes I’m blessed to find a stranger who will tell me their story, whether big or small. While in Honolulu, I went to a local bar, and sat next to Jamie, a man in his mid-30s. We talked for an hour, and he shared with me how he ended up in Hawaii; there was nothing and nobody holding him to his city, so he had decided to make his own future, halfway across the world in Hawaii, where he later found love and a family. And suddenly, he wasn’t just another face in the crowd of the life or just another hermit crab on the shore; he had a name and a story.
In a blog I recently posted, I came clean about the abuse I had endured a few years ago. Almost overnight, half of my hometown had sent me a message or sent a friend request. I wondered, if by coming clean, I had released myself as a hermit crab, or at the very least, I had changed my shell from ‘victim’ to ‘survivor’ to just ‘me’. If it has been one thing I learned from my time following the TWLOHA group, it’s this: everyone has a story, and your story is important.