Andy Weir’s short story, The Egg, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
If you haven’t heard of it until now, don’t feel too bad. I was late to the game too.
Here’s how you can catch up:
Watch it: Kurzgesagt (German for “In a nutshell”) is a Munich-based design studio known for its YouTube animation videos. They created this video of the story to celebrate the 10th anniversary (note: it’s slightly adapted from the original text to make it better for video):
Wondering about Andy Weir’s inspiration to write The Egg? Here it is in his own words(1):
It originally came up because I was having an argument with my aunt. I thought her point of view was ridiculous. Then, later I figured if I had lived her life, her opinion would make perfect sense to me. That got me thinking about a system where people live each others’ lives.
How about his hope for the reader?
I wanted the reader to change their mindset (if only for a short time) and start imagining themselves really being the people they meet.
Ultimately, he came up with The Egg:
I wanted to come up with some way to look at the world such that life was fair. A way where everyone came out even in the end. This is what I came up with.
10 Mind-Expanding Thoughts on “The Egg” by Andy Weir for its 10th Anniversary (Short Story Summary)
Andy Weir has said that The Egg doesn’t reflect his own personal beliefs or his thoughts on the nature of reality. It’s just a story.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look for some ways that the story can positively impact our day-to-day lives. The beauty of storytelling is that stories are subject to personal interpretation and meaning.
So, here are my top takeaways from The Egg:
1. We can “have a conversation” with God (Source, Being, Consciousness, or whatever name you prefer)
The Egg is interesting on a number of levels:
- It’s narrated from the perspective of God
- God is having a simple, seemingly down-to-earth conversation with a human
You can envision God any way you want. If you could have a conversation with Consciousness, what would you say? If you could be with Being, what do you imagine it would be like? These can be enlightening thought experiments that we don’t often consider in our day-to-day lives.
And, unlike the story, you don’t have to wait for a traumatic experience to do this.
2. Death is natural
Don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies.
True. And, as Steve Jobs said, “Death is very likely the single best invention of life.”
Death can be a tough concept for people to wrap their heads around. To help, I compiled some of my all-time favorite mortality quotes. Here are some highlights:
- “If you want to be reborn, let yourself die. If you want to be given everything, give everything up.” — Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell Version)
- “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.” — Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
- “How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end! How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived!” — Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
- “Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
3. We don’t know what happens when we die
‘Is this the afterlife?’
‘More or less,’ I said.
Reincarnation? The afterlife? More or less. Nobody knows.
What do you think happens after we die? Have you consciously thought about it? Paradoxically, it can be a productive thought experiment that can give your life more meaning while you’re alive.
4. Relationships are most important in life
You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.
There’s now long-running data to support relationships being most important. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has tracked the lives of over 700 people for over 75 years. The current director of the study, psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, says:
- “The lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
More on relationships here: Happiness 101: The Beginner’s Guide for How to be Happy (Money, Simplicity, Relationships, Culture)
5. Choose your own (religious or spiritual) adventure
All religions are right in their own way.
This reminds me of a few quotes:
- “He who knows only one religion knows none.” — Max Müller
- “This is how you know something about God. You become one with Him. Ultimately, the only way to know about God is by letting your being merge into The Being, and then seeing what happens to you. This is universal consciousness, and the qualities of the beings who have attained this deep state are similar in every religion.” — Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
- “Most ancient religions and spiritual traditions share the common insight – that our ‘normal’ state of mind is marred by a fundamental defect. However, out of this insight into the nature of the human condition – we may call it the bad news – arises a second insight: the good news of the possibility of a radical transformation of human consciousness. In Hindu teachings (and sometimes in Buddhism also), this transformation is called enlightenment. In the teachings of Jesus, it is salvation, and in Buddhism, it is the end of suffering. Liberation and awakening are other terms used to describe this transformation.” — Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
There’s also a practical byproduct of religion and spirituality: you can live longer. Research conducted on people in the Blue Zones (a handful of areas on Earth where humans live to 100+ like the Ikarians in Greece) showed that actively engaging in spirituality or religion added years to your lifespan.
6. The meaning of life is up to you
The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.’
‘You mean mankind? You want us to mature?’
‘No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.’
‘Just me? What about everyone else?’
‘There is no one else,’ I said. ‘In this universe, there’s just you and me.’
You stared blankly at me. ‘But all the people on earth…’
‘All you. Different incarnations of you.’
I’ve often wondered if the meaning of life is simply for the development of character. Or, maybe this life is a test for the next life—just a training ground for what’s to come. Again, no one knows.
One of my favorite perspectives on the meaning of life comes from Naval Ravikant:
- “There is no answer. The real answer is ‘because.’ You get to make up your own answer is the beauty. If there was a single answer, we would not be free. We would be trapped…we would all have to live to that answer…luckily there is no answer.”
7. Consciousness & Universal Intelligence
You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness.
Aside from finding and creating my purpose, spiritual growth has been the most life-transforming part of my journey over the last four years.
I’m still a beginner when it comes to consciousness and universal intelligence, but here are some posts to get you started:
- What is Spaceship Earth? & Why It’s Time Humanity Gets “On Board”
- 20 Conscious Themes from “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer (Book Summary)
- A Deep Look at “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle (Book Summary #1)
- The Ultimate Question: “Who am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi” (Book Summary)
8. The human mind is a fraction of what you are
Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.
It’s estimated that 108,000,000,000 humans have ever lived on Earth. Yet, human intelligence is only a tiny fraction of universal intelligence. There’s still so much we don’t know or understand.
Even what we do know (math, science, physics, etc) are, in my mind, best described as the languages of God / Source / Being / you name it. Humanity decoded how they work; we didn’t code how they work. We discovered; we didn’t design.
Think about it. Humans didn’t design humans. We didn’t design the body. Or the brain. Or nature. And, we’ve only decoded a fraction of how it all works. There’s a much greater universal intelligence at play.
9. The Golden Rule
‘Every time you victimized someone,’ I said, ‘you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.’
Of all the takeaways and life lessons jam-packed into this short story, this seems to be the one that sticks with people the most.
The thought that everyone is connected—that your actions toward other people could be actions toward yourself—is mind-boggling for many. How about for you?
It seems like author Andy Weir was successful in his intended reader response. Recall from the beginning of this post:
- “I wanted the reader to change their mindset (if only for a short time) and start imagining themselves really being the people they meet.”
Want to take it up a level from the Golden Rule? Try the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they would like to be treated.”
10. The universe is an egg
‘Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.’
‘So the whole universe,’ you said, ‘it’s just…’
‘An egg.’ I answered. ‘Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.’
Maybe it is!
What did you think of Andy Weir’s short story The Egg? Please let me know in the comments.
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