A woman emerges from a shell on the beach. Caught up in the bliss of becoming, she spreads her arms like wings and flies. The shell is the legendary chambered nautilus, one of Nature’s most incredible *mollusks.

What does the nautilus mean to her?  To us?

Everything! Its life is a metaphor for our soul journeys.

The life of the chambered nautilus demonstrates the transformation and change we all seek. Born as a tiny, single-chambered shell, it steadily expands by adding new, internal chambers to the first in a perfect, concentric spiral. As each fresh cell is completed, the nautilus moves in, seals off the last compartment, and creates an identical, larger dwelling space. Over a 20-year lifespan, it can reach an impressive size.

It travels the ocean by jet propulsion. Squirting water from a funnel at the mouth of its shell, it propels itself backwards, seeking new horizons to support its growing needs. It takes advantage of currents to assist its journey, yet swims against the tide if necessary. When not traveling, it lives on the slopes of coral reefs at depths of up to 800 feet, beyond the reach of predators. It ascends to shallower waters at night to feed. Adjusting the buoyancy of its inner chambers, it rises and sinks – a process adopted by divers and modern submarines.

It’s a survivor! The nautilus propelled itself through ancient seas over 500 million years ago, before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Yet it continues to adapt to modern conditions. Its ranks are successfully evolving and expanding from the Indian Ocean to the tropics of the Pacific, while other prehistoric species, unable to adjust, became extinct.

Check out this amazing video made by Sir David Attenborough, a respected British broadcaster and naturalist, on the astonishing life of the peripatetic mollusk.

Do you want growth and expansion in your life? Remember the nautilus! Build your life one cell at a time. You too have the capacity, and the need, for lifelong growth. Remain open to life’s currents and opportunities. Adapt to them, while staying true to your deepest instincts and intentions. Don’t be afraid to buck the tide. Avoid predators. Be creative. Dare to move forward on blind faith sometimes ~ even when you can’t see exactly where you’re going. That’s Ok. Cast off doubt, and journey fearlessly into an uncertain but promising future.

Risk is not the enemy.

Fear is.

William Arthur Ward, (1921~1994), one of America’s most quoted inspirational writers, had this to say about risk.

“Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard
In life is to risk nothing.
Those who risk nothing, do nothing, have nothing,
And become nothing.
They may avoid present suffering and sorrow, but they
Will not learn, feel, change, grow, love, or live.
Chained by their fear, they are slaves who have forfeited
Their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.”

Despite the challenges of today, trust in yourself. Trust in your ability to adapt to changing conditions. The nautilus does. You can. Make like a mollusk and GROW!

(*A mollusk is an invertebrate with a soft, unsegmented body enclosed in a shell.)