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All In The Same Basket


The first known printed record of the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is claimed to be from the year 1660, although it was, even by then , a well known saying. The idea behind this proverb is pretty straight forward. If you put all your fragile eggs in a single basket it may meet a fateful fall and there goes breakfast.

The idea this illustrates is that it’s not a wise idea to put all your resources, primarily those economic and relationship based, into a single opportunity or desired outcome. This makes sense considering how often we fail to reach the preferred outcome for many things we desire in life. Pointing all our hard sought, earned, and gathered, “eggs” of trust and resources in one narrowly focused direction may certainly lead to failure and disappointment. The problem is this isn’t often the message we receive or are encouraged to adopt from our family, friends, educators, peers, superiors and leaders. What is usually drilled into us throughout our life is that diversification and bucking the accepted norm is likely going to be perceived a sign of a lack of focus or discipline and should be cautiously avoided.

Instead of encouragement to seek out broader opportunities we are cautioned not to diversify but to specialize, stay in our assigned lane, follow currently accepted trends while trusting that we’ll be just fine within the confines of our narrowly focused or mandated choices. We stay put, rooted in our appointed place, not venturing abroad from the familiar neighborhood of ideas and prejudices we have been raised with, taught and accept, as undeniable truth. As much as this may pain us to consider, it conflicts with what we often feel is the truth. Our creativity, logic and progress is stifled in the absence of being questioned.

Creative innovation is rarely a product of those who don’t choose to venture beyond the limiting physical and mental boundaries of their proverbial neighborhood. Remaining within the confines of acceptable thought and behavior we often stay where we’re told regardless of our discontent. We may feel a tug at our heart, our gut, our soul, but for the sake of the tribe and our appointed spot within it, push those feelings of curiosity and interest down deep inside and struggle to put them out of our thoughts. Fear of the unknown, along with social pressure and influence, takes over, and the facade of contentment, self preservation, status, power, and position win out. We chicken out and accept our place within the tribal / social pecking order.

There’s another saying. It’s perhaps a little less well known than that of the eggs in a basket due to it’s somewhat negative connotation, but it proposes that one must break eggs in order to make an omelet. Th idea is that a favorable outcome can be the result of radically disrupting resources in order to create something better than what is the currently accepted norm. In such a scenario breaking eggs and making them indistinguishable is preferred to preserving, protecting and caring for them individually until they hatch and learn to fly on their own. History is rife with such omelette making. The results have been indisputably varied. Anyone vaguely aware of what’s happening on a world wide scale will be hard pressed to deny this fact. The resulting omelette is often the spoils of a few and not the many. Certainly not that of the critically thinking individual.

Let’s take a holistic view of the world’s current situation and exercise our right to think critically. Rarely has burying the memory and experiences of the past in favor of a dramatically altered and forcibly induced future been beneficial to the masses. Confusion, fear, anger, distrust, upheaval and strife have historically resulted from such egg breaking tactics. A suspicious mind might conclude that the chef or chefs who dropped the basket, (substitute "ball" for basket if you like), to break those eggs might intentionally desire to create an environment of turmoil. This often results in a mixed up mess for all but the chefs. It does succeed in getting all the eggs in the same hot frying pan, so to speak, but at what cost?

In order to make an omelet one needs a basket of eggs. Then they need to proceed to break those eggs and make one single entity of them. At this point it's impossible to tell one from the other, having become a single meal with no distinguishable differences. Once consumed the responsibility for cleaning up afterward often falls to others and not to the few chefs whose hunger benefited from the resulting omelet, ultimately consumed and soon forgotten.

At this point you’re most likely wondering what the point of my sharing all this talk about eggs with you is. If history teaches us anything it is that during a major upheaval to economies and societies there are winners and there are losers. Regardless of which side you end up on the losers on both sides are often the most creative people in the neighborhood. Authors, academicians, artists, creative individuals from all disciplines, are victims of the resulting egg breaking. Those individuals who threaten the status quo by their innate desire to exercise freedom of thought and expression through creating some work with their talent and their heart are a pariah to those who end up in power. Free thought and its open exercise is the enemy of those few who feel they have the right to be the designers and disseminators of all knowledge and understanding. Freedom is the greatest enemy of those who love only themselves and not the creative mind and heart of the individual who will not be controlled by power for power’s sake.

The individual creative mind is the most precious resource any society wishing to preserve itself and survive has. When the individual who by virtue of their ability to think and act uniquely, freely and independently is forfeited through social restrictions or some other force, creativity disappears. Freedom to think and act independently from one another takes self discipline, self control and the strength to let curiosity overcome fear. It is without question safer and more comfortable to be part of the whole omelette that societies often serve up, but again, I ask, at what cost?

Think of that proverbial basket of eggs as being the socio-tribal, (I may have just made this word up but hey it fits), nest in which we have been born. The nest represents at its most rudimentary existence a tribe and the eggs are its members who have come together in shared practices, beliefs and prejudices to form a shared social structure. Most will eventually peck their way out of the restrictive shell that protects them and come into their own as unique beings. When strong enough some will leave the nest they were part of and find their own unique way in the world, perhaps joining another tribal nest or creating one of their own. They must be brave enough, smart enough, and strong enough to survive, which demands creativity, self discipline and an ability to think and act on their own. These are the free thinkers, entrepreneurs and creative adventurers among us.

Without entrepreneurs and adventurers there is no progress. Things stagnate, wither and die, or perhaps even worse, move in reverse. As humans each of us has an innate and instinctual ability to think and act on our own if we should choose to do so. Currently most of us in the United States still get to do this. Hopefully, this will continue to be the case in our country for a long time to come. This is up to each and every one of us individually, not collectively, and ultimately is our responsibility if we will only accept it as such. We can become a broken egg and part of an omelette for the “greater good” or we can become our very best self and set an example of free flying thought and creativity for those who will venture forth from the nest after us.

At this point my innermost feelings tell me that many of us are at the edge of the nest we call home, which may soon be dropped, or thrown down, in favor of creating an omelette for those who have an insatiable appetite for power and control over every aspect of our existence, from birth to death. This isn’t hyperbole or some conspiracy theory as some work diligently to have us believe. Take the initiative to seek out the truth, not what others tell you is true, and open your eyes and mind. Look around with critical thought towards being fully aware, and ask yourself the question, “Am I and the rest of my tribe better off today than I was only a few short years ago?” Think honestly and truthfully as you look at the path you are currently on and the obstacles which block you way. Then ask yourself what you've done personally to make things better, not by making omelets but by pecking through the shell you've been in and finally climbing out, for not just your benefit but for the benefit of the others of your tribe. Perhaps, as we stand at the edge of our nest, it’s time we learn to fly.

©2022 Michael D. Davis All Rights Reserved

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