Read the other “how my mind works” posts to more fully understand this
I have moments of sudden dawning realization and understanding; epiphanies; I recently ( past 3-4 months) have had very many.When I realize concepts, in a sudden flash of understanding, the new concept is applied and fitted to all of my memories that it applies to, which, depending on how big the concept is, makes many, many, many things make sense that didn’t make sense before.
When I was little, (6 years old in kindergarten in a private school that I left before first grade) I was at a pool being chaperoned by someone who I now think of as a 18-19 year old kid (Yeah, I’m only 17, sue me for thinking of those who are young as what they are).
I don’t remember (because I never was told) his first name, but his last name was Graham; we (the other kids) called him “Graham Cracker”. He didn’t like being called that, thus resulting in us (especially me) calling him by it as often as possible. One day, I called him “Graham Cracker” one time too many, and he snapped, yelling “Shut up!” at me.
Most kids my age (6 at the time) would cry, some kids that age might run to someone they felt would protect them from the ‘mean grown-up’, but I didn’t – it was what I now know as my first moment of epiphany. In that moment, I crossed from being an automaton to a sentient being. In that moment that lasted hours upon days upon years upon decades, I gained self-awareness.
Mr. Graham was no longer a ‘grown-up’: For the first time, I noticed his backpack by the side of the pool. I noticed how much younger he looked than the other people at the school. I suddenly saw him as who he was – not a figure of authority who must be obeyed, not a ‘grown-up’ who told what must be done and set rules that must be followed – but a person. A kid, just like me, and the only difference between us being that he had been born before I was, and was bigger than me because of it. He wasn’t better, smarter, and hadn’t been enlightened by some godly, heavenly knowledge. He was a person, just like me. In that moment that I would refer later on to as “seeing behind the mask”, I crossed from being an animal to being a person, one who was self-aware and sentient.
Today, I realized why I have the need to analyze and chew on things that have happened that I don’t understand. In some cases, if you follow the rabbit hole down deep enough, you find something that makes things make sense. Until today, I didn’t know why I needed to seek these moments of epiphanies. What I now realize was a “placeholder” reason for needing these moments of epiphanies was that “I wanted to find more knowledge”…sure, the shoe fits, but it still seemed like a hollow answer – flawed; wrong somehow. It didn’t feel right. It made sense, but deep down, I knew it wasn’t really the answer I was looking for.
“Know Thy Self” – what is probably the most important and most famous philosophical statements in the history of man, written by Socrates. Socrates believed that his fellow citizens were going through life without taking a look at themselves, what they were doing, or why they were doing it. They would do things, and do them the way that they did them, simply because they had always been doing it, or because they were told to, by people who were equally unaware of their own blindness.
Today I uncovered why I need to have these moments of epiphanies – although one of the reasons is to gain knowledge and understanding, it’s not the main reason…the main reason is due to fear – the fear of being blind; and not only blind, but blind to your own blindness. If you take a look back at what I now know as my first moment of epiphany, you will see that what was gained was self-awareness. I cringe at what my life would be like and what kind of person I would be like now if that realization had not occurred as it did, as early as it did in my life.
The deep fear that I have at my core is that there is some kind of window of opportunity. Just like children easily learning a second language when they are very young, discoveries like this are probably easier when you are younger. On the flipside of this, learning new languages when you are older is harder than it would have been had you attempted to learn the language when you were young. If I look at what my life might have been like if that first moment of epiphany, that first, huge, important step hadn’t occurred and cringe, I look at what huge realizations I might be missing if I don’t strive for them.
The fear is that if I don’t analyze, and instead let life fly by, I will never reach my full potential. Just as I would have been different had that first moment of epiphany had occurred, I may end up being a lesser being that what I could be if I miss an opportunity to gain wisdom and understanding in the future.
My whole life, in the back of my mind, for some reason I’ve always had this expectation of a moment some day in which something will be said, something will happen, or something will be done that will make everything fall into place. I thought about why this might be today, and what might have put this strange expectation into my mind, when I realized all of what you’ve just read above.
If I gained self-awareness the first time it happened, what might I gain the next time I have a moment of epiphany? What if I don’t hear those few words on the radio that start me thinking on a train of thought that will eventually lead me to wonderful and sudden understanding?
In a final thought, I want to say that just like concepts, when I have moments of epiphany and suddenly come to understand something, in a flash of realization, everything in my memory to which the new piece of knowledge that has been obtained can apply to flashes into my mind, and suddenly things make sense. When I realized that Mr. Graham was just a person instead of a godlike grown-up authority figure, I suddenly saw people for who and what they were…the principle wasn’t necessarily smart, she just had a really big desk! Teachers, adults, grown-ups, could all be wrong, just like me.
“I think, therefore I am“- Rene Descartes