Monday Zen: The Old Man & The Sea

gray seashell on the seashore selective focus photography

A man lived by the sea. He was alone. Retired. The man collected shells for a living.

Every morning, he walked for miles on the beach, gathering what the ocean had washed ashore. Some of the shells he sold for food and supplies, the rest he kept and organized.

One day, he found an unusually large shell. He turned it around, and, inside, there was a mark. A boat-like shape made of seaweed, with a triangular figure sitting in it. In his town, it was a symbol of death, suggesting his time was up soon.

From then on, every morning before his work, he walked to the edge of the pier near his house and waited a few minutes for death to appear. If he didn’t show up, he would go his usual way.

One year passed, then two, then five. Every day, the man was a little more surprised, but he kept walking to the edge. Only after 30 more years, one day, death finally came. Just like the shell had predicted, he arrived in a small boat.

When death extended his hand, the man didn’t hesitate. As he stepped inside, he said: “I expected you much sooner.” Death replied: “And that’s why I never came.”

The man smiled and together, they sailed into the sunset.

What was it about this man? Why did he get a sign? I don’t think he was special. I think we all get shell messages - but not everyone can see them.

We might be too busy, too self-engulfed to even notice. And then, no matter when he comes, death’s arrival feels very sudden.

But if we prepare, if we look, if we spend a few minutes at the pier, each day is more reason to be grateful - and whenever our time comes, we’ll gracefully sail away.


About Monday Zen: Most people hate Monday. Why? In a good life, it’s a day like any other. At the very least, it shouldn’t be worse by default. That’s what Monday Zen is for: To make sure you start the week with calm, poise, and determination.

Let’s not derail our trains of thought before they leave the station. Let’s enjoy the journey.

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