A Matter of Apples and Eggs


But how do we heal relationships with people who have died? Or who simply are not open to process, however gentle and well meaning?

My father now fell into both categories. He had certainly never invited feedback about his parenting. In fact, on the one occasion I attempted such a communication, he called me “holier than thou”; then dispatched me with his most caustic benediction: “Just remember,” he sneered, “the apple never falls far from the tree.”

I was revisiting that interaction some years later, during my morning commute. I had vowed that this little apple would move as far from the tree (and as fast) as it could thrust itself. “But how exactly does an apple ‘thrust’ itself?” I pondered while negotiating the morning rush hour.

I had recently read The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, and for no particular reason, it occurred to me that my answer had something to do with Peck; that if I would poke around a little with this hint, the solution would soon present itself.

This kind of internal chitchat had become a habit for me by now, a harbinger of insight, encouraging me just to stay with the subject matter at hand, but in a relaxed sort of mental soft-focus. So I meditated on the unlikely mantra I’d been given: “Poke, poke; Peck, Peck; poke, poke; Peck Peck” . . . until the light came on:

You’re not an apple, you’re a chicken! Hold on . . . it’s not a chicken but an unborn CHICK, growing ever more confined in its neurotic egg. From inside that egg, you can “thrust” with all your might, this way and that, but as your father aptly stated, you will only roll yourself so far.

Yet if, instead of thrusting, the chick just does what comes naturally – pokes and PECKS against the shell of that egg – it will, in due course, HATCH. And on that day (bayom hahu), discover things the apple can never know . . . like FEET (not to mention WINGS!).

I was so enamored of this “breakthrough,” I called Diane just as soon as I got to work. “You are not going to believe what I am staring at,” she said after hearing my story. As I was dialing her up from the office, my wife had been flipping through the pages of a magazine. And when the ringing of the phone interrupted her flipping, this is what her gaze had just fallen upon:                                 



From the Nov. 19, 1990 issue of

Newsweek Magazine, reprinted 

with permission of Alaska Airlines