Results of Aging Knowledge Test
Hurray! (I Think)…Or, How Blogging Saved My Sanity

How Aging Changed the Lobster Story

category_bug_journal2.gif Many years ago, in the 1970s, I produced hundreds of local television shows in New York City that were similar to what Regis and Kelly and The View are now - morning programs aimed primarily at women which, over time, covered a wide variety of topics.

One of my favorite guests, when family issues were being discussed, was Eda LeShan. She was a family counselor who had once hosted a show on PBS titled How Do Your Children Grow?. She also wrote books, many of which are still available.

Eda opened one of those books with what she and I referred to as "The Lobster Story," which became, the more we talked about it, one of the important ideas we held about how we each chose to live. Here's the story:

One evening, Eda found herself at a formal dinner party, the kind where seats at the table are assigned with place cards. Following the cocktail hour, as Eda was settling herself in her chair, she realized her dinner partner was an oceanographer. "Oh, damn," Eda said to herself. "What am I ever going to find to talk about with this man?"

As the thought was running through her head, the man said, "Mrs. LeShan, I'll be bet you think we don't have anything in common. Let me tell you about the lobster.

"Every year, a lobster molts," the man continued. "It takes 72 hours for a new shell to form and harden, and during those three days, the lobster is the most vulnerable it can be. But, Mrs. LeShan, a lobster can't grow without making itself vulnerable."

Lobsters. People. No difference to Eda, after that story, in terms of vulnerability. She and her dinner companion had a sensational conversation that evening over good food and wine.

Eda and I came to believe that if we went for longer than a year or so without a crisis to overcome in our lives, we were not being challenged enough to continue growing.

In those days, I thought of "crisis" as always negative. If like me, you spent the majority of adulthood as a single woman, a crisis often involved a man - or lack of one. Other times it might be a difficult boss. Or being unemployed for a time. Or lacking confidence in one's ability to succeed in a new endeavor. Or the death of someone close.

Each of those events happened to me, some more than once, and they left me bereft for a time. But I never came out the other side of a difficult period without having gained a deeper understanding about myself, about another person, about life in general. So much so, that I came to rely on Eda's and my belief that one should have a crisis at least once a year and if too much time went by without one, I began to watch for something to overcome. It doesn't really work that way, but it's good to be on the lookout.

In recent years, I've come to see that the nature of the event that triggers some self- or life-examination doesn't need to be either a crisis or negative. Reading a new idea in a book, magazine, blog or in a movie - if it is original or striking enough (sometimes only its phrasing) - can set me on a new thought path and realization that I have changed in some manner.

For several weeks, I've been mulling a phrase from a statement made by Ang Lee, the director of Brokeback Mountain: "...the power of movies to change the way we're thinking..." which led me to consider how the power of blogging has changed the way I think (more on that some other time) in quiet, but dramatic ways. Who I am has been altered during two years of blogging, something I could not imagine when I began TGB.

And that thought, of course, led me back to Eda, who died in 2002, and how much I wish I could tell her what The Lobster Story, adapted to my later years, continues to mean to me.


This post of yours is one of my favorites. It is very Buddhist in its approach to the ebb and flow of life. I love it, I especially needed it this week, and thanks!

Ronni, wonderful story. This fits with a theme I have been bumping into this week. Life is not just here or there, black or white, up or down, good or bad. There is much to be said for being in between, and vulnerable, like a lobster. Thank you!

I believe it is possible to find a way to talk with a person with whom I have little in common. After the chat we have something in common. One has to take a chance ! :)

This is a story I've heard--and loved--before. And Boy! Is it true!
If you manage to talk to Eda before I do, please tell her from me, "Thanks so much for sharing." And you too, Ronni.

I have a list of people I want to see and visit with when I get to heaven. Eda is on that list.

I have found some of the most beautiful moments in life happen when we are at our most vulnerable....that's when the true discoveries appear.

Thanks so much for sharing this story. I had not heard it before. I, too, love this post. It follows my life.

I paid a very intelligent woman a lot of money years ago to guide me into understanding the dynamics of personal growth through vulnerability, trauma, pain, etc. After therapy I came to better appreciate those times in my life instead of fearing them as I once did. I do not seek them out, however. They seem to knock on my door regularly enough! ;)

With all this in mind, let's hope the "trauma" of the past 6 years in American politics has sent the entire country into the biggest learning curve of the past century - growth which will open us all to wiser decisions.

Lovely story. Vulnerability leads to openness and sensitivity - key ingredients to growth.

I loved this post Ronni. Yes, if life were all plain sailing it would be damn boring.

I can't wait to read how the power of blogging has changed the way you think.

Had never heard the lobster story. It's lovely. How intuitive and sensitive of your friend, Eda's dinner partner to make the effort to seek common ground with her. What a wonderful memory.

Vulnerability brings risks but, fortunately, most of the time the reward is more than worthwhile.

Visiting this blogging world over the past several months has certainly changed my thinking in many ways. Perhaps one of the most significant is that, in fact, I can now appreciate that meaningful friendships can be made
via this medium. I read it in the comment exchanges between others, and I feel it.

Amen! Crisis has been my middle name for a very long time. I've come to welcome it and the wisdom and strength I gain as a result of it. Crisis reminds us life isn't stagnant and that we're always vulnerable to a degree. I'm in mid-crisis right now. The good news is that I've finally learned to deal with it with minimal hysteria and maximum patience. Thanks for sharing a great story.

Wow! I've never heard that story. What's amazing is that this is a day I finally took a BIG risk. I posted about it on my blog.

I've always avoided drawing, at least since I was a kid. My father and grandmother both were very accomplished artists, and I always felt intimidated. My effort looked so pale compared to theirs.

A few weeks ago, I bought some markers and colored pencils. Since then, I've drawn some pencil sketches - little risk, since I could always erase.

Today, for the first time, I used my markers. The result is on the blog. I feel so rejuvenated.

Thanks for that story. I know I'll be mulling it for awhile.

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