I found the remains of these hermit crabs being sold at a garage sale.
They had been transplanted from their natural habitat - excised, from the oft mutilated body of our natural world - only to be grotesquely reattached to a dirty tablecloth, as old unwanted trinkets.
It was profoundly sad…
Torn from their distant habitat, they had been deprived of their purpose and their place. Indeed, these lonely hermit crabs had been rendered insignificant. Their deaths were empty. And meaningless. And probably cruel.
But life is also born from transplant. It is a gifting of seeds to the soil or sperm to a womb.
Beautiful and terrible, it is a most vital instrument of the ecosystem. We ingest the lives of others to preserve our own existence and we give of ourselves and take from each other - sharing sustenance and heavy loads.
And so, we become a part of each other - sustaining our communities and our existence, until the cycle of life offers one last gift and we are transplanted back into the body of the ecosystem.
The poor little crustaceans, that had come to lie upon my work table, understood this more than any.
Their survival once depended upon perpetual transplantation. They lived by readapting their bodies into the remains of other creatures that had been passed on to them by the provisions of their habitat. And ever mindful of their communities, when they grew beyond the limits of their itinerant exoskeleton, they would meet to share their refuge with other crabs in need.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1dnocPQXDQ (Hermit crab shell exchange)
But it was hard to understand why these hermit crabs had ever come to be here in the first place.
Perhaps it was a confused act, borne of our own wretchedness, that ripped these little crustaceans from their aquatic Eden, and turned them into trinkets in an artificial hell.
So, as they lay before me, I began to make some art, for the sake of all our healing. And possibly contrition. And give them one last shelter in the form of human hearts.
And perhaps, through this final gift of transplant, their remains might fill an emptiness in the heart of all humanity.