The Egg Man Will Miss You

“The egg man said he’ll miss you” my mom said.

It sounded like the kind of absurd thing you’d hear in a John Lennon song. It was late October and we were eating lunch in the back garden, which is still a pleasant thing to do at that time of year in California. This had become a near-daily routine for us over the past month since my return home from Europe. It had also quickly become one of my favorite parts of the day. Often our lunchtime talks meandered through philosophical or spiritual terrain before finally arriving at an all too familiar sigh, followed by a short silence and a mutual acknowledgement that we should probably get back to the day. This time the mood was less inquisitive. I was leaving for Nepal the next day and I was already feeling homesick.

The egg man will miss me?

My return home had resulted in an uptick in egg sales for the man at the local farmer’s market who my family buys our eggs from. The sale of a few eggs isn’t dramatic but it was strange to suddenly be conscious of this small connection the egg man and I shared. We had never met and until that moment I had never considered him or his contribution towards the meals I had been enjoying for the past month.

When I lived in San Diego I would often visit the Zen Center of San Diego to practice and study zen under Ezra and Elizabeth. Every couple months they led a sesshin, which is a silent meditation retreat that typically lasts 3 or 7 days. Before each meal during sesshin we would give thanks to the 72 workers who brought us our food. 72 was a symbolic number meant to represent those of us who had prepared, cooked and served the meals that day as well as those we didn’t know who also had a role in harvesting, processing, transporting and selling the ingredients. 1

Thanking the 72 workers is a practice to consider and honor the interconnectedness we have with others, many of which we may not know. In other words, it’s a way to consider the egg man. 2

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One of the 72 workers working a rice paddy in the Himalayas, Nepal.

Once in a while someone shares with me something I’ve done that has had a positive influence on the way they live their life. I’m extremely grateful to receive these small windows into how my life has touched others. So often it’s something I never could have guessed would have had such an influence. Many times it’s something I was completely unaware of doing at all. These moments encourage me to continue the hard work of opening myself up and taking the risk to connect with others.

How many of the ways we touch others remain forever invisible to us?

Like the egg man who often doesn’t see the delicious meals his eggs help make or the people they nourish, I too am often not privy to the results of my work.

When I think about the egg man it reminds me that so many of the ways I’m connected with others will forever remain a mystery to me. And it reminds me to celebrate the connections I do see and share with others how they’ve influenced my life for the better whenever I can. It’s such a helpful reminder because it can be so easy to mistake absence of evidence for evidence of absence.

It can be easy to forget about the egg man.

 

**Featured photo is of an egg collection from the Pysanka Museum in Kolomyia, Ukraine. 

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  1. At first I thought 72 seemed pretty high. As I spend more and more time in rural villages though I’m beginning to believe it might not be high enough.
  2. One of the effects that this particular practice has had on me is that I’ve stopped eating meals in front of the tv or computer.

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Hello. I’m Alasdair.

Hello. I’m Alasdair.

I believe that being aware of who I am and mindful of who I am becoming is the best investment I can make in my life —and that when we focus our efforts within, the rewards naturally flow outward to those we love and through the communities we belong to.