Yesterday while at the Nashville Zoo with my granddaughter, we watched as the zookeeper offered to let small children hold an ostrich egg. These amazing eggs are approximately 24 times the size of a chicken egg and weigh about 3 pounds. But rather than embracing a once-in-a-lifetime experience, almost without exception the parental caution was – “Now, don’t drop that egg.”
Just what do you suppose was at the top of every little child’s mind as they carefully took that big egg into their arms? Were they marveling at the size, wondering how long it would take to hatch, imagining using that egg as a volleyball, or basking in the educational enrichment of the moment? No, I suspect that the thought foremost in their minds was – “If I drop this egg I’m in big trouble.” I doubt that the teaching experience went much beyond the fear of dropping that egg.
Fear masks our ability to see the positive.
On March 3rd, 1943 an air raid siren sounded in London. The citizens of London knew they were at war with Germany and that a retaliation attack was possible. But with nothing but the sound of the siren, panic and mass hysteria was the result. 1500 people tried to get down the steps of the Bethnal Green train station tunnel for protection. One lady, carrying her small baby, tripped on the stairs and fell. Within a few seconds 300 people were crushed into the tiny stairwell. The chaos lasted less than 15 minutes, but 172 people were dead at the scene, with one more dying the next day.
No German bombs fell that day. The largest number killed by any single bomb in the entire war in England was 68. The crush at Bethnal Green was the largest loss of civilian life in the UK in World War II. But bombs didn’t kill those people – fear did.
If you’re focused on not dropping the egg you:
- Will not try for the promotion now. I’ll just hang on to what I have.
- Will not start a business in this economy. It’s too risky.
- Will not buy a house. If I ever get behind on payments the bank could foreclose.
- Will never love deeply. What if I’m not loved in return?
- Will not give generously. There’s no guarantee of return.
- Will not dream richly. I’ve got to be practical and realistic in these trying times.
Most people have never held an ostrich egg. They base their experience on knowing chicken eggs are fragile and break with the tap of a spoon. Most people don’t know that an ostrich egg has a thick shell that requires a hammer or drill to crack. Their perception is that the “risk” is much greater than it actually is.
Maybe the people holding you back have experienced too much pain, shortage and despair. They may be watching too much news on TV. They don’t know the thrill of living out your passion. Don’t let their fear deprive you of completing your “bucket list.” Go ahead, take that trip, write that book, open that ice cream shop or buy that little house you’ve been wanting. And if you drop the egg, call 20 of your friends and enjoy an incredible omelet.