Life Marks: Suzie, The Slightly Scarred Egg
Books have always been a part of my life. They were an escape when I was younger. When I moved out on my own, my birthday tradition involved surrounding myself with piles of possibility at a bookstore and selecting a few. With each year of adulthood, I would add to my personal library.
Why a small selection? Because all of my money went toward funding my classroom library at that time.
One of my earliest selections was Eggbert, The Slightly Cracked Egg written by Tom Ross and illustrated by Rex Barron.
In an eggshell, Eggbert gets kicked out of his refrigerator for starting to crack. A talented artist (he really should be on Face Off), he tries to camouflage himself to fit in but it never lasts. Eggbert has an aha moment when he realizes the world is full of cracks and they are beautiful. He accepts himself and goes on a journey, visiting these cracks.
I’ve used this book in elementary, secondary, and university settings. The themes are varied but universal. Rejection. Acceptance. Love. Forgiveness.
One page in particular has always stood out to me. It would appear to me from within my inner slideshow.
I loved the artwork and the text- “From then on, Eggbert traveled around the world…but he never forgot his friends back home in the fridge.” That transition of “From then on” marked a change in his life. Moving forward on a path that he wanted but remembering and staying connected to his past. (He painted and sent them postcards of his adventures.)
Terminal illnesses and tragedy have marked my circle of friends and family. Each event has left a life mark and, if not immediately impacted, the legacy of loss rippled out to others. I’m sure many can relate to this.
In the fall, I had a routine screening which lead to a diagnosis which lead to a precautionary surgery which lead to a scar. No matter how scared I was, I was grateful that the surgery would heal me. Compared to what others in my life were experiencing, this was a 3 out of 10 on the alarm scale.
I felt like I had no reason to complain because I was alive and what I had was treatable. I had a wonderful partner who wrapped my arm every day. My colleague opened up my water bottle for me at lunch. My supervisor made it easy for me to take the time I needed.
But, to keep it honest, I was fixated on the scar. Because it was gross. And long. With unevenly sized “football” stitching. While I love Halloween and zombies, I didn’t fancy having an immediately noticeable imperfection. I like to lure people in before they notice my cracks. I started to create this narrative in my head. “No one will want to coach with you. You look broken.” “You’ll never participate in a TEDTalk. That’s for pretty people.” “Stop all the steps you are taking toward your vision. You’ll probably die before you get started.”
Thanks to my training, I knew I was falling out of alignment and had started to link my self worth toward the external instead of the internal. This is my default under stress. I allowed myself to wallow in the narrative for less than a week and numbed myself with TV. After that, I dug in to dig out.
I knew a big piece of this was legacy. I worked with my coaches in this area. I knew another part was the age old theme of treating my body like my friend instead of my enemy.
So, I named my scar Scarina. I said hello to her each morning. While my bandage was being changed, I told her I loved her. In my head. I didn’t want my…cats…to question my sanity. I was really telling myself that I loved me and was making Scarina part of my whole self, not a broken part.
When I healed, I invested in temporary tattoos from Conscious Ink. My favorite one said “I AM” and was surrounded by the chakra colors. I would notice it and say, “I am healthy” or “I am whole” or “I am love.” The great thing is that I can still see the memory of the tattoo when I notice Scarina and feel the way I felt when I said those things to myself.
Bottom line. I reframed how I viewed my scar. It is a life mark. And, it says, “I’m still here.”
So, back to Eggbert.
Scar. Crack. Rejection. Acceptance. Love. Forgiveness. Mental slideshow of Eggbert’s cracks and adventure.
I knew I was meant to go to the Grand Canyon for the first time ever. And I did. During the summer.
Day 1- Started on a boat trip down the Colorado River where I got to see the canyon from the base up. (Side note: I was the first in group to go in and under the 47 degree water.)
Day 2- Saw the Colorado River from the top of the canyon down. Without barriers. Walking path could fit 1.5 people on it width wise. Ankle height “boulder” “protecting me” from the sheer drop off to no recovery. Stuck in fear on a bench. (Side note: I’ve discovered I have a fear of falling- not heights. I also learned that the appropriate word to describe the panic or anxiety I was feeling is terror. I got myself off of the “I’m going to die” train by focusing on my breath and following each death thought with a gratitude practice.)
Day 3- Stuck to areas with clear boundaries and guardrails. Took pictures with my Eggbert book! (Side note: My external self had her nose claimed by something with a stinger and I also had a self inflicted hole on my cheek BUT my internal self was at complete peace and happy to take photos to commemorate the experience.)
Had it not been for Eggbert, I don’t know that I would have thought to go to the Grand Canyon to connect with nature and heal. I’m thankful to authors like Tom Ross who craft timeless pieces of literature that resonate with youth and- ahem- non youth. I’m grateful to illustrators like Rex Barron whose artistry causes food in refrigerators to emote and readers to reflect.
And, I’m oddly grateful to Scarina. A reminder that I am here. Each day, I contribute toward my legacy by contributing to the legacy of others. That’s my life mark.