July 23, 2014
I’m sure we’ve all had them, those messages from the Universe that clarify life’s mysteries. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Pare it down, shave off the excess, get rid of the fluff. Reduce that sucker right down to the lowest possible denominator to figure it all out. Right? Something like that.
Some people might call it a message from their Higher Power; AKA, God. That could very well be; I guess it depends upon your mindset. I like to think that once in a while I figure some stuff out myself.
Epiphany the First: What’s In The Box?
My first epiphany came to me in the form of a dream. I’m not a great rememberer (not a real word, apparently. Tsk) of dreams, so the fact that this one stuck with me was a big deal. Okay, here goes.
In my dream I’m climbing a very steep hill. A road going uphill. I come to a fork in the road, and one fork continues up at that steep angle and the other goes down hill. I take the uphill fork, and by now I’m tired. But I keep walking up the side of this road, my feet dragging. When I get to the top, there’s a door in the ground, like a hatch (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) and the door is very heavy. It takes all my strength to lift it. When I lift it and drop it to the ground I look inside. In the hole is a large metal box, like a treasure chest. Again my strength is tested as I lift the box by the handle and bring it aboveground. There’s a lock on the latch, and when I touch the lock it opens. As I’m squatting on the ground, holding the open lock in my hand, I wake up.
Wait! I woke up without seeing WTF was in that box?! That is NOT the way it’s supposed to work! But . . . that IS how it works. We don’t get to take a free look in the box. We have to figure out what’s in the box. That’s your job. That’s your special purpose. That’s life, so go find your treasure.
Epiphany the Second: Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Yoda.
I don’t know how many of you have ever considered how wise Yoda was. If you are unsure, go now and watch your DVD of the Star Wars trilogy. The first three. No, not One, Two, and Three. Four, Five, and Six, the real first three. And if you don’t own a copy of Star Wars, shame on you.
Yoda’s wisdom is legendary. How about this gem: “You will find only what you bring in.” Wow. Here are a few more for you, translated:
“Already know you that which you need.”
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
“Always pass on what you have learned.”
“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”
“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
There is one Yoda quote that is by far my favorite. I try to live by this one:
“Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
Epiphany the Third: There Is No Try.
So with due credit to Yoda, I present the third. “Anyone can do anything they want, as long as they want it badly enough.” Don’t get cute here and try to come up with ideas that disprove the truth of this epiphany. The fact is that we are all very good at creating excuses for why we CAN”T do what we want to do. But we are surrounded by examples of people doing what seems to be the impossible. What makes them different from us? Determination. Stubborn pride. Obsession. Stick-to-it-iveness. I made another word.
So what do you want to do? Learn to fly? You can learn to fly. If you want to learn to fly badly enough, what you’ll do first is figure out how to pay for flying lessons. That could be quite an ordeal in itself. That could take years. Then you may have to overcome a fear of flying. My point is that if you give up on the dream because it’s too expensive or scary, then you weren’t determined enough. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, because difficult is not the same thing as impossible.
Epiphany the Fourth: Everything You Read Teaches Something Valuable.
The hardest part of writing for me is that it takes up time that could be spent reading. I’ve always been a big reader. Ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you. I need to have something to read, always. If there wasn’t anything else available when I was a youngster, I read cereal boxes. Is that an addiction? I don’t think so, but it has been at times a coping mechanism, an escape, a worry reducer, a distraction, a small talk avoider, a sedative, a conversation starter… I could go on and on, but that’s getting a little tiresome. You get the point: I like to read more than many other things.
My books and I, we have an agreement. They keep me company and make me smarter. I put them on my shelf when I’ve read them, reread them from time to time, and only loan them to people who will take good care of them. I’ve gone through phases and have decent collections from a variety of authors like Stephen King, Ken Follett, Jodi Picoult, and Nora Roberts (What? I have an affinity for Irish witches and Yankee shipbuilders. Don’t judge.).
Many Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew novels were consumed in my youth. I learned the value of being curious and prepared. My dad was convinced at some point that he could figure out the formula for writing a romance novel. He picked up a few and quickly grew bored with that idea. That was how I happened to read The Flame and the Flower, which was the start of my love affair with historical fiction, romantic or otherwise. I probably don’t need to explain what I learned from those ladies of the heaving bosom and gentlemen of the splendid manhood.
The thing is, you never know when some minor factoid that you pick up in your reading is going to come in handy. Could be at a party, or a job interview, or a date. It could lead to the start of your next great friendship. Or a career change. Or maybe it’s just entertainment this time, nothing wrong with that either.
If nothing else, you’re flexing your brain muscle, kicking those synapses into gear. Use it or lose it. Plus you never can tell when you might need to know the nutritional information on your Cheerios.
Epiphany the Fifth:
This may be rather anticlimactic, but I haven’t had a fifth epiphany yet. I say yet, because I’m sure there’s another one floating around out there waiting for my grab. I keep learning and messing up and figuring it out, all the time. So there has to be another moment of sublime mental clarity in my future. At least one more, right?
Just like a certain painting or a piece of music can speak to you in a secret language, whispering to you about beauty and perfection and oneness, so too can an idea reach out to you. And you’ll say, “Of course, that’s so obvious!” and do a face palm. But it’s only obvious after you’ve figured it out, after you’ve lived some life, after you’ve messed up an embarrassingly large number of times. Then you’ll be a guru. Just remember what Yoda said: Always pass on what you have learned.