A few days ago, I posted a little story on Instagram that went something like this:
Two weeks ago, a woman on the beach in Dubrovnik stopped me and demanded to know why I was “collecting rocks.” I said, “They’re not rocks, they’re sea glass.” And then I showed her what was in my hand. She said, “Well be careful you don’t cut yourself!” And I said, “Oh they’re not sharp, they’re already smooth,” to which she replied “Then why are you picking them up?”
Two weeks ago, a woman on the beach in Dubrovnik stopped me and demanded to know why I was "collecting rocks." I said, "They're not rocks, they're sea glass." And then I showed her what was in my hand. She said, "Well be careful you don't cut yourself!" And I said, "Oh they're not sharp, they're already smooth," to which she replied "Then why are you picking them up?" #sigh #seaglass #beachlife #sea #croatia #dubrovnik #travelgram #travelblog #solotravel #solo #nature #traveller #wanderlust #travel #blog #blogger #latergram
I’d like to thank everyone who reached out to say that they not only know what sea glass is, but that they love it too. What a pleasant surprise! I thought I was the only one. For years, I’ve been picking the stuff up and have been forced to explain myself every step of the way.
“So it’s just broken glass?” a lady on the beach in Coney Island once asked.
“Right,” I said.
“And what do you do with it?”
“Whatever you want,” I replied.
“No, what do you do with it?” she insisted.
“Oh me, specifically?” I asked. “I decorate with it… or sometimes I make jewelry out of it.” I also once killed six tetra barbs with it when I put a handful of green into a freshwater aquarium, but I didn’t want to get into that.
“Well that sounds very interesting,” the woman said, slapping her flip flops together. “I wish you good luck.”
She didn’t say come right out and say so, but I knew exactly what she was thinking as she walked away: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’ve heard that a time or two before.
These are the clouds about the fallen sun, The majesty that shuts his burning eye: The weak lay hand on what the strong has done, Till that be tumbled that was lifted high And discord follow upon unison, And all things at one common level lie. (W. B. Yeats, These Are The Clouds) #poetry #quotes #clouds #nature #finland #country #travel #travelgram #traveling #solo #wanderlust #writersofinstagram #travelblog #travelblogger #traveling
Sea glass is more treasure than trash to me. I’d collect it for the simple fact that I like doing it, but I have to admit that the ridiculous conversations I have in the process are a nice bonus. Like, one time, a lifeguard in Hawaii could not understand why I would waste effort on an empty bottle, much less one that had been broken into a hundred pieces. “Maybe you should get a full one and drink it,” he suggested with a wink. “Maybe you should watch the people in the water,” I winked back.
In Albania, a woman looked straight-up horrified when I picked up a broken bottle from the edge of a dock and threw it as far as I could into the water. I would have given her a quick science lesson on erosion, but I didn’t know if she spoke English so I just wandered away, my nose high in the air. A true artist is rarely understood, I told myself.
Still, the French man in Tenerife was my favorite. I showed him the handful of pebbles I collected and, by way of simple explanation pointed at the ocean and said “Sea. Glass.” He took two steps back, looked at my hands and shook his head. “That is not a sea gull,” he informed me.
I don’t blame people for not understanding my fascination with sea glass. I can hardly explain it myself. I find it oddly therapeutic to pick it all up and all but impossible to put it back. I have very limited space in my suitcase, but that hasn’t stopped me from bottling it up and quietly moving it through 30-something countries. Now that I have a quasi-home in Helsinki, I’ve started sprinkling it in candle holders and potted plants just like I used to do back in my own apartment.
Ice Bath doesn’t get it, but he pretends to like it just to keep the peace. He doesn’t interrupt me when I talk about the energy of the ocean and the beauty of a wave. He nods along when I point out that it’s pretty in an unexpected way. Maybe he’s even a little impressed that it’s trash – broken trash, no less. Garbage that’s been beaten down a hundred times, ground up and spit back as something more beautiful than it ever was in the first place.
Sea glass is a comeback story. A metaphor, I guess. It’s a reminder that even when things seem to be in a million messy pieces with a hundred jagged edges, they can still turn out OK if you just give it time.
I’ll take a bottle of that any day.