Life Lessons in a Poem

Boiled Egg

Another day, another email from The Writer’s Almanac. Here’s the poem:

A Quiet Life

What a person desires in life
is a properly boiled egg.
This isn’t as easy as it seems.
There must be gas and a stove,
the gas requires pipelines, mastodon drills,
banks that dispense the lozenge of capital.
There must be a pot, the product of mines
and furnaces and factories,
of dim early mornings and night-owl shifts,
of women in kerchiefs and men with
sweat-soaked hair.
Then water, the stuff of clouds and skies
and God knows what causes it to happen.
There seems always too much or too little
of it and more pipelines, meters, pumping
stations, towers, tanks.
And salt-a miracle of the first order,
the ace in any argument for God.
Only God could have imagined from
nothingness the pang of salt.
Political peace too. It should be quiet
when one eats an egg. No political hoodlums
knocking down doors, no lieutenants who are
ticked off at their scheming girlfriends and
take it out on you, no dictators
posing as tribunes.
It should be quiet, so quiet you can hear
the chicken, a creature usually mocked as a type
of fool, a cluck chained to the chore of her body.
Listen, she is there, pecking at a bit of grain
that came from nowhere.

by Baron Wormser, from Scattered Chapters. © Sarabande Books, 2008.

Thank you, Mr. Wormser, for writing a poem that contains so many concepts I believe are important for human beings to understand in order to try to live as enlightened participants in this world.

  1. Everything we desire involves the action and interaction of many other things.
  2. Everything comes from somewhere and requires effort to be extracted.
  3. Everything is important — even a chicken.
  4. We are affected by other people, even when they don’t realize they are affecting us.
  5. We affect other people, and the entire world, whenever we act on a desire.

And God (or whatever you call it) is involved in there somewhere, too. Considering and honoring all these concepts can lead to a quiet life. I wish you all, at the very least, a quiet day.


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