Saturday, September 13, 2014

Epiphanies are overrated and invaluable

Rogue Valley Roasting Co.
12oz Decaf Americano

Epiphanies are a favorite plot device.  They are either the climax or the precursor to the climax of the action in a story.  In the story, once the protagonist has had that moment of perfect clarity - oh, material wealth isn't as important as personal relationships... or, boy I can't keep behaving this way because it undermines my happiness - all is suddenly perfect.  That's the fiction: that just knowing your behavior is a problem somehow suddenly enables you to change your behavior.

Epiphanies are insights.  They are moments of illumination along the path you are on, not the destination you are trying to reach.  Sometimes they show you where you've been, sometimes where you're going.  Sometimes they show you who you really are, sometimes they show you who someone else really is.  And you can then say to yourself that you no longer want to walk that path.  Or you can come to realize that you are on the right path, after all.  But knowledge isn't action.  You must still walk the path, whichever path you choose.

Behaviors are the most difficult adversaries we will ever face.  To change the way we act, or even the pattern of our thinking - that is incredibly difficult to do.  For some people, a single epiphany is enough to reroute their life and to sustain them as they walk along their new path.  But for most of us, if we expect the epiphany to fix everything, then we are almost certain to return to our old ways and the old state of things.

So, don't dismiss the epiphany - they are often true (but not always) and can give you invaluable light in the darkness.  But don't rely on them to tell all the truth and carry you along to your destination.  Some epiphanies are just a campfire by the side of the road (sometimes, a campfire surrounded by bandits!).  But some are like the moon.  Keep your skies clear, and they may shine on the road to guide you home.

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