The Nautilus Seashell

Many years ago, someone told my mother a story about a man named Robert, and the Nautilus seashell he once found, and she later told the story to me. Perhaps it was my uncle who told the story to my mother initially; he always had stories about his travels, and loved telling them to my mother, who he said knew “how to listen.” Anyway, my mother later told me the story, and goes something like this:

Robert Bertrand was a quiet man, who enjoyed vacationing in different beaches around the world. Living far away from the beach, with no immediate family left, no wife, or kids, Robert saved all year long and traveled to different beaches in various countries. He didn’t necessarily love to swim, or the ocean for that matter, or to lay under the sun. What he enjoyed was to look for seashells, a passion he had developed as a kid and never forgot.

So, Robert went to different beaches, stayed for a week or two (depending on how much he had saved, how much vacation time he had, and how expensive the destination was), and looked around for seashells, day and night. This was all he needed, and motivation enough to always go back home and work for another year, forever thinking of the next beach he would visit, and of the new seashells he would find.

Here the story has an empty spot, since my mother couldn’t remember in which beach specifically Robert found the Nautilus seashell that would break his routine. Perhaps my uncle never told my mother in which beach it happened, or she forgot, but by the time I heard the story it was unclear which beach it was. Important detail, I guess, but even the best stories have holes. Regardless, one time he found a nice Nautilus seashell, prettier than any other he had ever found, and went back home filled with excitement.

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