Every Crack is Also an Opening!

(Inspired by a passage from The Book of  Awakening by Mark Nepo)

I recently heard a passage read at a meeting that gave me reason to pause. It equated times of great change with the birth of a chick—not the usual transformation metaphor that I am familiar with. What struck me most was that the shell of the egg—which provided a safe environment for the chick to grow—ultimately becomes tight and constricting and begins to crack as the chick grows too large for it. Struggling for its life, the chick wiggles through the cracks and actually begins to eat its own shell in order to get out.

Giving up that which has sustained us is an act of courage, especially when the promise of a new world is not clear or guaranteed. I like to think I am brave and will always forge ahead, but I also know that sometimes I need to get a little help from my friends. Things don’t work out as expected, plans fall through. Suddenly, there are cracks in the walls around me. I can wait until the walls close in or I can work through the protective shell that I used to call home, step out of my comfort zone and take a risk. Birth is a messy process.

The same is true for organizations and society as a whole. At this time of great change we see many big systems, industries such as health care and many other types of businesses and organizations that have outgrown their current form. As the cracks appear and the walls close in, necessity challenges all of us to let go of ideas, systems, paradigms, attitudes, and ways of doing things that do not work anymore. If you’re comfortable, then you’re probably not changing. It takes work. Transformation is not an easy process.

Gratefully, there is birth after labor! Together with my colleague, Sakara Bey, we have been busy birthing a new program entitled: Leading Powerfully: A Journey for Self and Organizational Transformation. In honor of this and other endings and beginnings, Strategies for Change is taking a two-week retreat on beautiful Orcas Island! I hope to report back on the new program and Orcas Island in the next newsletter. Until then, here is the passage “Every crack is also an opening!” from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, that inspired the current posting:

‘When in the midst of great change, it is helpful to remember how a chick is born. From the view of the chick, it is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. It begins to feel hungry and cramped. Eventually, the chick begins to starve and feels suffocated by the ever-shrinking space of its world.

Finally, its own growth begins to crack the shell, and the world as the chick knows it is coming to an end. Its sky is falling. As the chick wriggles thorough the cracks, it begins to eat its shell. In that moment— growing but fragile, starving and cramped, its world breaking—the chick must feel like it is dying. Yet once everything it has relied on falls away, the chick is born. It doesn’t die, but falls into the world.

The lesson is profound. Transformations always involves the falling away of things we have relied on, and we are left with a feeling that the world as we know it is coming to an end, because it is.

Yet the chick offers us the wisdom that the way to be born, while still alive, is to eat our own shell. When faced with great change—in self, in relationship, in our sense of calling—we somehow must take in all that has enclosed us, nurtured us, incubated us, so when the new life is upon us, the old is with us.’

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2 Responses to “Every Crack is Also an Opening!”

  1. francesca says:

    Dear Linda you went to my core with this….. I have been like a chick this past year and to some extent I am still going through it. There are losses and there is lots of transformation that I am grateful for. It is the birth of a new life for me under many aspects and it would have not happened otherwise. As hard has it has been it is an enormous gift, all of it!
    Thank you, you put it perfectly into words for me and I needed to hear it to help me with my process.
    Much love,


    Francesca – that is beautiful. I have witnessed your growth from afar and am so happy to hear that this passage touched you in the way it did. I honor your transition and look forward to connecting real soon! Love, Linda

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