Pulling off the Barnacles

Does it ever feel like you're looking at life through a swim mask like this one?

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Barnacles attached to a pair of snorkling goggles that washed up on Satellite Beach, Brevard County, Florida, USA.
Barnacles attached to a pair of snorkling goggles that washed up on Satellite Beach, Brevard County, Florida, USA.

You’re certain it was clean and clear when you put it on, but then some years and decades passed and now it’s crusted with barnacles, ill-fitting, and fogs up for no reason. And seeing clearly isn’t as easy as it once was.

Barnacles are crustaceans that attach themselves to boats, timber, rocks, (and swim masks). They form a hard shell around themselves for protection making them extremely difficult to remove.  I love the metaphor of barnacles for the stories and beliefs that stick to us over time but have long ceased to serve us. They form slowly and quietly and then suddenly there’s a barnacle party in your life.  And charming as they are on the bottom of a boat or the pillar of a pier, they’re not so charming when they obscure your vision of the sunrise, the stars, or your exquisitely ripe piece of avocado toast.

By the time we reach a certain age, the accumulation of barnacles (stories, beliefs about ourselves and others) on our swim mask can be cumbersome at best, debilitating at worst. Pulling them off one by one is the only course of action. Sometimes they pop off with a flick (a flash of insight, a line in a movie), but more often they take focus, energy, work. But barnacles are removable.

One more cool thing about barnacles before I set the metaphor aside…If an encrusted saltwater boat can make its way to fresh water, the barnacles cannot survive. They either fall off on their own or they scrape off without effort. Pretty cool, huh? Makes you stop to think about what areas in your life might be saltwater and what areas are fresh.

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