The Life Lessons of Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Humpty Dumpty is one of the best-known nursery rhymes in the English language. I can still remember when I learned that Humpty was an egg. Only recently did I get a much better appreciation of the lesson contained in the rhyme, when I read about one doctor’s report of what Humpty Dumpty really brings into our lives.*

When Dr. Glenn Livingston first did his internship in clinical psychology, one of his patients was a young lady who had been working the streets and wanted to become a more responsible member of society. Dr. Livingston had been meeting with her regularly and was making good progress. During one of their sessions, he needed a break to use the restroom. As he reached the door to leave, he realized his wallet was in his suit jacket, which was still in the room. He went back to retrieve his wallet.

As he left the room, the young lady said, “I’m no thief.” When he returned, she was gone.

Glenn went to his supervisor seeking a way to mend the situation; with the supervisor’s years of experience, he would surely be able to provide some advice on what to do.

His supervisor simply looked at him and said, “Glenn, you can’t un-break an egg.”

All of our relationships are built on trust. When we violate that trust, it’s very difficult to restore it. When trust is broken, the relationship is damaged. There are no magic words or super glue that can repair a broken relationship. It takes time and a lot of effort.

What’s the lesson here? Relationships, like eggshells, are often fragile. They can break very easily. The best thing is to remember that “you can’t un-break an egg.” Guard and protect trust in your relationships. You build trust very slowly; and it can be lost in an instant.

There was a happy ending to the story. Sometime later, the young lady returned to see Dr. Livingston. This time, he again excused himself during the session. As he left, he handed her his wallet. When he returned, she was still there and returned the wallet. Nothing was missing.

Learning and living are an on-going action – pay attention and you will marvel at all that can be discovered with the human soul.


– Clay sculpture of Humpty Dumpty, provided by artist and sculptor Fia Richman of Kauai, Hawaii
*Portions of article sourced:, by John Chancellor.