Pain is inevitable; a given in this human experience. But, how we face it is not.
When an irritant like a grain of sand, or a parasite enters an oyster’s shell, the mollusk encounters intense pain. Being limbless, removing it is not a biological option for the oyster. Instead, its response is to laboriously coat it with the same bodily fluids that create the oyster shell. Over the years, layer after layer, the painful irritant gets transformed into an object of beauty.
Perhaps, it’s not pain that we should protect ourselves from, but the fear of it. Because if we never learn to address our pain with the best of what we have, we’ll never grow that pearl within.
This beautiful drawing of a pearl oyster from Sri Lanka is by G. B. Sowerly for an 1868 book by Sir James Emerson Tennent (Sketches of the natural history of Ceylon: with narratives and anecdotes illustrative of the habits and instincts of the Mammalia, birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, &c. Longman, London). It presents the beautiful outcome of nurturing yourself through pain. We’ve now recreated it as a screen-print.
Pearls from pain: single-colour screen-print