When I think of summer, I think of sea shells. More specifically, I think of white sea shell necklaces. I’m ashamed to admit it, but yes, I was once the proud owner of a white sea shell necklace. What can I say, I couldn’t help it. It was almost like it was speaking to me as I circled ‘Wings’, acting like I wasn’t secretly hoping to try it on. And when I took it over to the airbrushed t-shirt section where I knew no one would see me, there was an instant connection. Immediately, I gave it to my mom and she bought it for me. Also, I may have made a connection with an airbrushed t-shirt, which I paid for myself (allowance).
There’s a certain amount of self-disclosure involved with the purchase of a white sea shell necklace. It’s like a window into the soul. When you see someone wearing it, you can assume they’ve been to the beach. You can also assume that at the beach, this person didn’t have a good friend who was willing to say, “yes, that does make you look more tan, but no, I don’t think you should make your mom buy it for you.” And in case you were wondering, I did wear it for 3 days at school after spring break.
It’s kind of funny how jewelry tells a story. You can tell a lot about a person by their jewelry, when you think about it. For instance, if you see someone wearing real gold, you can assume they are important. If it’s fake gold, you can assume that they watch a lot of Jersey Shore. You can safely assume a man wearing a wedding band is married, and that he spends his nights watching ‘The Bachelorette” and an assortment of shows that begin with “The Real Housewives”. And if you see someone with lots of piercings, you can assume that they’ve tried out for ‘America’s Got Talent’ on at least one occasion.
I’m not a big jewelry guy. I do wear a wedding ring, because I’m married, and I may or may not watch shows that begin with “The Real Housewives”. I think the white sea shell necklace ruined the jewelry scene for me. Once you’ve worn one, you just can’t wear anything else, it’s like cheating – on the ocean. About a year ago however, I wore a bracelet. 3 bracelets actually. They were made of laminated paper. One had my name on it, and the other two had the names of my tiny children on them, followed by an assortment of numbers and unused holes. They were hospital bracelets, and several nurses told me that they did in fact, make me look more tan.
One night as I watched the same episode of ‘Sportscenter’ for the 6th time, I studied those bracelets and thought about jewelry. I thought about how these bracelets take precedence, for everyone really. I thought about their value, and was certain that even if I was important and wore real gold, I would cherish these bracelets more. Even more than my white sea shell necklace.
And then I thought about other people wearing similar bracelets, ones with their last names first and their first names last, laminated ones with unused holes. I wondered about their stories. Maybe they were happy, like me, maybe they cherished the opportunity to wear their bracelet. Or maybe their bracelet represented disease or some sort of sadness, maybe they would give anything to not have to wear it. And while I didn’t know their stories, I did know that all our bracelets had one thing in common, they took precedence.
See, there are moments in life that bigger than us, moments that shape us and mold us, moments that re-align us towards what really matters. And it’s kind of funny that after all our attempts to impress, after spending our lives piling on chains and rings and chasing real gold, that a laminated bracelet with holes becomes more important. As I sat there and stared at my wrist, I couldn’t help but think about the next time I would wear that bracelet. I wondered why I’d be back, whether it would be for joy or sadness. I wondered what my story would look like. I decided that these moments are what really matter, that life isn’t about accumulation and appearance. I thought about living a better story, before I wear that bracelet again. See, if we spend our lives in pursuit of appearance, we’ll end up with lots of pretty things, shiny ones too. But we’ll miss out on the real stuff, the laminated things, bracelets with holes in them, we’ll miss out on the stuff that really matters.