I was scrolling through some vacation photos from last summer and came across this photo of a crab on the beach. My granddaughter and I went out after dark one evening to spot crabs. They were everywhere! We had so much fun walking along the sand at night at catching the crabs with our flashlight. The little critters skittered here and there but froze when the light shone on them. If the light wavered at all, they were off like a flash.
The photo put me in mind of one of my favorite expressions crabs in a bucket. If you’re not familiar with the expression, it comes from the old story of the fisherman who was catching crabs and throwing them into a bucket. His grandson asked why he didn’t have a lid on the bucket and wouldn’t the crabs all crawl out. The fisherman replied, no, the crabs don’t crawl out although they are certainly able to do so, but when one crab reaches a claw over the top of the bucket, the other crabs all pull him back.
I can think of so many applications for this parable. Whether it’s being a better student or artist, getting a promotion or a new car, we all tend to compare ourselves to others. I wonder why that is? Isn’t it possible for everyone to be successful at whatever they want to be? Being around negative people, those who complain all the time or put down others, is very draining. I always try to look beneath the surface to determine what their real motives are for complaining. Feelings of insecurity or inferiority? Or are they just crabs in a bucket who don’t want anyone else to succeed if they can’t? Or are they looking for excuses for their own lack of motivation and hard work?
Have you ever faced some crabs in your life? When you announced that you just got a raise, they responded with well, you’re just going to have to pay more taxes. Or maybe you aced your last test and your friend called you a brown-noser. Or someone in your neighborhood complains about those snobby rich people down the block who think they’re really something. I could go on and on.
Being a crab is unfair and being around crabs is depressing. The news and social media are filled with crabs, those who want to basically gossip about this person or that. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re not happy with a situation, change it, don’t just complain about it. And certainly don’t waste your efforts envying someone who has something, whether a skill, a trait, maybe a material possession that you don’t have. Stop being a crab. Escape the bucket and make your own path.