The strangest thing happened to me. I was busy writing my blog for the week when this giant crab scratched on my sliding glass door. I named him Karkinos after the giant crab in Greek Mythology that was placed among the stars by goddess Hera to make up the constellation known as Cancer (my birth sign).
Now, you might ask, what is so unusual about a visit from Karkinos? A reasonable question considering I live in Florida just half a block from the Atlantic Ocean. Crabs come and go around these parts, but this particular one seemed intent on meeting me.
This crustacean species is known as the Giant Land Crab (Cardisoma guanhumi). Every year, between June and December, they migrate from their inland burrows to the ocean where the females will deposit their eggs during full moons. The first time I saw these Giant Crabs I was driving to my new Florida home soon after my arrival on November of 2014. They are not hard to miss because they are “YUGE” and, in order to get to the Atlantic Ocean, they cross the main coastal road (AIA) that connects the island I live on.
What makes Karkinos’ visit so unusual is that he had to go out of his way to reach my bedroom sliding glass door. In fact, he had to travel roughly twenty feet deep into my Florida Room (covered porch) to pay his visit.
Even though he was as big as a Humvee, I paid little attention to him on this first the first visit. I simply paused for a minute and ordered him to be on his way. Apparently Karkinos understood English, for he quietly excused himself and went merrily into the sunny afternoon. But, later that evening, Karkinos was back scratching at my same door.
This return was very unusual, these crabs are biologically programed to get to the sea ASAP. Not Karkinos, for he came back four more times in the three days following. Since then, I have not laid eyes on that hard shelled son-of-a-gun, apparently he returned to the constellations.
I have been an agnostic for a large part of my life, but the last few years have convinced me otherwise. I know there is a life or intelligence within us that gives order to our external life. Whenever I see someone’s fate transformed by the magic of serendipitous events, I am reminded of its existence. For this reason, I decided to try to decipher the meaning behind these unusual crabby visits. Like everyone else, I turned to Google to search for the spiritual symbolism of the crab.
You are probably convinced by now that my brain has deserted my cranium. But before you laugh at my attempts to get life direction from a handful of crab visits, consider this; Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist known as the father of analytical psychology, suggested that a primary method for making sense of the world was by interpreting its symbols. Jung developed theories about the Collective Unconscious (a name he gave the intelligence I referred to that is part of each one of us) and archetypes. He was convinced we could decode life meaning through the images we perceived and, if we allowed it, could be directed by the power of their attendant associations. Call me crazy if you like for Googling the crab, but I am following the advice of a pretty sound authority in Jung.
Google had many things to say about these creatures, but I narrowed them to four points;
1) For the Chinese, crabs signify prosperity, success and high status
2) As crabs grow, they cast of their shells for a new one. For this reason, they are considered a symbol of
3) Crabs appear to warn you that you may be exposing yourself to toxic energies and spiritual vampires.
4) Crabs are the symbol of self-protection, boundaries and teaching others how to treat you.
This was all good advice, but I certainly didn’t need Karkinos to convince me I am prosperous and successful, after all, I live near a beautiful beach in a nice home, not bad for a guy who started his American life in an orphanage.
I also didn’t need to be told I am in the midst of transformation. I have been living in that in between place called a life transition for the past three years. I already know all one can do is live one day at a time if you want to get to the other side in one healthy piece.
I also have met my share of blood sucking people who can poison your life, but I didn’t need a visit from a crab to enlighten me on this subject, for I am adept at identifying such folks and then distancing myself from them.
It was the last point that spoke volumes, in particular, the part about “teaching others how to treat me.” Rejecting my old beliefs that I am not good enough and creating a new standard of self worth has been the quintessential challenge of my current life transition. Karkinos was right; the time had come to teach those closest to me how I should be treated.
But haven’t you already taught people how they should treat you? you might ask. Yes, I have, that is the problem, the person I have presented to those closest to me is flawed. Interestingly enough, my career persona has been much more normal and better adjusted It is actually not unusual to be well developed in one area of your life and not in another, but that is a topic for another blog. Suffice it to say that today I am talking about teaching those closest to me, my family, friends and romantic partners.
For years I believed I had to shape myself to what they wanted of me in order to win their hearts. This made me shapeless and without boundaries. I allowed myself to be trampled and used in order to keep the peace in those relationships. In the end, those close to me assumed I would adjust to whatever they decided. I have to change that, which will not be easy, for some may not like a more authentic me.
All this amounts to the fact I have to reintroduce others to a more reasonable respect for me. Here is what I have come up with so far. I know that, as a Cuban immigrant, I posses an unusual background, but that adds great value to my ideas and beliefs, this means I expect to be treated equitably and with respect, to be heard and not just listened to. As far as I am concerned, true family and friends can be counted on at the hour of need, I will teach them that is my expectation. I also will expect to be valued for who I am and not just on special occasions.
I will teach my lover the same as above but with certain additions. A romantic partner who is not excited to be in a relationship with me and does not make an effort to spend time together is not worth having. Neither is one who does welcome and long for all levels of intimacy. To be my partner, she must accept me exactly as I am and not try to convert me into their ideal and to encourage and support me as I attempt to become the best I can be. She also needs to show she is excited to be with me and makes the effort to spend time together. Finally, she needs to joyfully work with me to make our union home base for all we do.
In return, I offer the same commitment to my family, friends and lover.
Frankly, I think I just spelled out a pretty good start on this effort. Being valued like this should be a minimum expectation. In fact, I believe this way of being treated has universal value. I believe you do too. Perhaps Karkinos approached me six times so I could act as your messenger and ask you to make up your own list on how you want others to treat you from this point on. What have you got to loose? If you don’t do it, you might get a visit from some humongous crab! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Call to Action:
We are all immigrants! Whether we left a country for a fresh start in another, or whether an unforeseen life change has sent us on an unexpected path, this cycle of death and rebirth is at the center of our human evolution and can alter us in ways we don’t fully understand. If you are going through such a period, I can help. If your organization is going through a challenging phase or serves people whose lives are in flux, like immigrants, seniors, or communities that are unappreciated, I can help as well. The combination of years and experiences have molded me into a messenger uniquely qualified to write, speak and mentor on the subject of discovering the inner resource that will convert difficult transitions into positive triumphs. Check out my website for the services I offer and to subscribe to personally receive my weekly blog.