Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben
In my last post, I mentioned I had just returned from a 4-day women’s retreat. In this retreat, I had a moment that I shared with one of the women, in which I told her about this very specific fantasy I’ve had of buying a dozen eggs and throwing them, one by one, into a brick wall with full force. It’s a recurring vision for me at times when I’ve overcome with rage.
She mentioned that this is not at all an unattainable fantasy, but for me the idea of wasting something as precious as an egg, produced and laid by hens who are bred and taken care of every day, is much too wasteful. I can mentally entertain the idea, but I doubt I will ever throw an egg at anything in my life.
The same day I had divulged my egg fantasy, I also took a long walk by myself between the nearby fields. On the path, I stumbled upon pebble after pebble in the shape of an egg. Some were quite beautiful, as if an early Easter Bunny had left them there for me to find. As I was walking, I pondered the symbol of the egg, its connection to fertility and growth, and I couldn’t help wondering: ‘Why do I so badly want to break an egg? With such force? What does that mean?’
An egg represents the potential of a long, biologically quite complex life. All of this potential is present within its thin shell, as long as it receives some warmth from the outside.
Yet an egg is also fragile. Drop it, and all the potential is at once gone. All that remains is the raw ingredients that make this life possible.
The egg, in itself though, is also meant to be broken. No chick has ever lived in its shell indefinitely. The shell needs to break, but if you break it from the outside, it will die. It requires breaking from the inside out.
When we venture out on the path of personal growth, it can be tempting to try and crack open our own shell with force. We know there’s this protective layer around ourselves, and we know there’s a ton of potential underneath, but when we try to get someone or something to crack us from the outside in, we often do more damage than good. We need to respect our own boundaries in order to break open at exactly the right time.
During the retreat, the theme of boundaries came up often. I have a tendency of surpassing my own boundaries, and only feel that I’ve crossed them, or that I’ve let others cross them, after the facts. It is why relationships scare me, why I cancel plans at the last minute and how I got into a burnout. Checking in with myself regularly, to find out where my limits are, is something I have to be aware of constantly.
In that way, I am much like a chick, living inside its own shell and only now slowly becoming aware of the fact that the shell is there, and that it makes up its most essential protection. Now that I am learning how important it is to keep that shell intact, I learn to protect my boundaries with intense fierceness.
At the same time, something inside is pushing out against those boundaries, feeling that this chick is getting eager to break out of its shell, take up more space and perhaps eventually spread its wings.
What I learned, more than anything else, is that there is time. The chick doesn’t crack out of its shell the minute the egg has been laid. There is time to grow, until the boundary feels like a prison and no longer necessary to protect what’s inside.
‘Till then, I hope all you chicks out there (of either gender!) nestle in your shells until the time is right to hatch.
Happy Easter week!