The Crab Bucket

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When I was a young girl, my sister and I would go crabbing at our grandparents house on the Connecticut Sound. Every summer, we went to crab at the beach with our grandparents. We would bring a bucket, a clothing pin, and string. We would climb out on the breaker rock walls and collect mussels. We would smash the mussels open with stones and clamp the meat onto the clothing pin. The clothing pin would be attached to the string and we would fish for the crabs. We would catch them and collect them into a bucket to see how many we could get. After we counted the amount we would always release them back into the wild.

While the crabs were collected into the bucket we noticed something. We noticed that every time one crab would try to climb out the others would pull it back down. This was very interesting and we wondered why they would prevent each other from climbing out. It obviously worked towards our benefit as they all would have to remain inside of the bucket. The crabs think that pulling the other ones down helps them to escape in some way but they are wrong. Instead, none of the crabs get a chance to escape from the bucket. This competitive nature can be compared to the phrase, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”

Being a child, toys were meant to be shared. There were times that one kid wouldn’t want to share the toy and would break the toy because there is this competitive mentality that if they cannot play with the toy no one else can. This is a similar comparison to the crab bucket. In life we find ourselves shifting towards different paths than other people around us. During these times, the ones closest to us do not always want us to shift away from them. There is this natural competitive aspect that the different lifestyles separate one another. If we change our perspective, we can allow ourselves the opportunity to empathize with our differences. We may even find common ground and acceptance.

If one crab let the other crab climb to the top then maybe that crab that escaped can help the others to do the same. We never truly understand something until we experience it for ourselves. When that crab is climbing to the top, the others feel jealous that they are not doing the same in that moment. Through patience, we learn that we truly want to help one another. No one wins when we all pull each other down. It is when we build each other up that we can all win fairly and equally. Sometimes we have to take risks and find ease that everything worked out even better than expected.

If you find yourself experiencing this crab bucket mentality, just know that there are so many different buckets. We have the choice to climb out of one bucket and into another. Or maybe we choose to climb out of one bucket and jump back into the ocean. Life gives you options even when the choices seem slim. Why don’t we choose to help each other out of the buckets? We need to choose to build each other up in order for success to happen for all.

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