An original egg

Strange EggSeveral weeks ago, when I was doing my grocery shopping at Carrefour (the WalMart of France), I saw this egg in the tray. I picked it up and held it in my hand; and instantly we drew a small crowd of people who found the egg equally disturbing. “C’est bizarre” was their assessment. Well, that cinched it. I had to have it.

I have always been attracted to the fringe:

  • The broken lemon drops
  • The forgotten fruit
  • The questions without answers
  • The mystery schools
  • The contrarians
  • The cutting edges

This egg would find good company there.

Over the past few weeks, I have often thought about the hen who laid this egg. What did she think of her egg? What did she feel? Did she love it or reject it? Did it hurt her? Did she ever even see it or was it snatched from her beforehand?

If I were in the United States, I seriously doubt whether my egg would have even made it to the supermarket. Eggs are supposed to look a certain way, you know. And this is not it. But not seeing the egg in the tray that day would have been a loss indeed.

Over the past few weeks, I have come to love this egg. It is not a golden egg. It is not a normal egg. It is an original egg. Every time I see this egg, it speaks to me as one who is willing to be different from the rest, stand out in the crowd, catalyze the reactions of others, speak with a voice all its own. And I will treasure it forever.

My friend Peter Fox, solar physicist and computer scientist, describes creativity in science as having “an original thought.” In other words, you have to be willing to see things differently. He observes, “As a scientist, you have to have some element of confidence in yourself, because otherwise you don’t open yourself up to the creative thought. There’s the point where you have to trust that at some level your intuition is right.”

We are drawn to the original like a car accident, as long as it’s happening to someone else; but we are reluctant to own it in ourselves. We live in a world of plastic surgery, social networks, and “irresistible content.” Marketing gurus tell us to write our books based on keyword searches:  find the words others are using, title your chapters with those words, and sell more books. I can’t help wondering where Michelangelo would fit into all this.

Where, along the way, did we decide that things have to look a certain way in life? Uniform, predictable, safe. Where is the imagination in that? Where is the diversity? Where is Life? What kinds of possibilities might appear through us if we did not reject the unusual, the bizarre and the original out of hand?

What hope do we have for creativity and innovation if we reject the original in and around us? If we continue to create from the outside in, what role can originality possibly play in our lives? What solutions would never appear in the world?

Am I alone in my concerns?

Do you have an original egg to share?

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