My poor husband. He is the closest person to me on the planet. He hears about everything I think and feel (often whether he wants to or not). He is forced to sit by and absorb all my dreams, hopes, anxieties and struggles, day after day. And like a good problem-solver, he always offers suggestions and advice.
I never listen to him.
No, I usually come back to him weeks later with this brilliant idea. Someone else has told me something that completely solves my problem and makes me feel 100% better. I’m so happy; I can’t wait to share my new understanding with him. He simply stares at me blandly and says, “That’s exactly what I told you weeks ago.” And I realize that I’ve been toying with the idea the entire time, ever since he gave it to me.
Yes, I do feel bad for him. I think it must take about a thousand repetitions of an idea before my brain finally begins to accept it, and he’s always the first one so he never gets any credit.
I believe epiphany is like this. Not merely a lightning bolt of inspiration that strikes us down and allows us to spring back up with new thought. It requires work: endless painstaking hours of analysis and provoked ideas and a hand stretching, reaching out into the air. Even when we are not sure for what.
And eventually, all of that will coalesce into a new understanding of concept. In that instant, we feel it, and we wonder how we didn’t see it all along. The truth is, we were building it all along, but we have only just now happened to glance in the mirror and finally seen it staring back at us.
In a way, it’s suitable, if often frustrating. We are never done. We are a constant work in progress, and so our thoughts and our comprehension of the world and our lives are also constantly growing, changing. Becoming new, by laying another brick on the foundation of the old.
Knowing that doesn’t make it easier. I want it now, dammit. I have always wanted it now, and never quite gotten it. It’s only when I slow down and realize my place in the process that I finally know it’s all inside me. I have only to look and to discover it.
The key is to always keep going. To push myself on when my steps would falter; to force my feet to travel the path when my mind is wondering whether this path is even going anywhere. To keep searching through the hours of conversation and quiet and thought, knowing that nuggets of wisdom are sprinkled throughout me, and those around me.
But if I don’t do the work, I will never have the pleasure of discovery. Without the effort, I will not come to that lightning-bolt moment of discernment. The one we call epiphany.
Have you ever had to work for a new level of understanding?