Tag Archives: epiphany

Understanding My Epiphany

I was reading a book a couple of days ago when suddenly, in a clear flash of understanding; I became aware of what propels me most in making choices and decisions. I found that especially shocking since I’m seventy-five years old. One would imagine, by that age, one wouldn’t be surprised at all by anything they might choose or decide. Yet, I was blown away.

The book’s passage had to do with how different people relate to life. Some people are practical and stoic and are led by natural laws following virtue alone, or through reason, fear, boredom, led or indifferent to other’s opinions, passions or emotions. I’ve always considered myself a rather practical person, most of the time, weighing pros and cons to make good logical choices. So I thought.

Instead of reading on in this book, I found myself dwelling on the dialog of one character to the other when he said to her that she was the kind of person who had to have passion when she picked her friends, selected favorite music, decided what to eat, even when decorating her abode. Those choices were what made her, her. But, she thought, if she believed hard enough, could she choose to follow convention or settle for security and not incorporate her passion?

What suddenly hit me was, the choices and decisions that have made me the happiest and most satisfied in my life have been the ones made with passion first, and not necessarily with thoughts of security or convention or so-called common sense. And I’d never really thoroughly thought this out before.

Not long ago, I attended my 55th high school reunion and our former class president asked several of us to each tell the group what we were passionate about now. One classmate said he wasn’t passionate about anything in particular. He was the only one of us who had not retired and when asked about that, he wasn’t sure what he would do when he did retire.

I remember feeling immensely sad for him when he said that. Here was a well-educated man, nice looking, healthy, very comfortable financially, with potentially lots of years left to him. The former class president asked him what he liked to do and the answer was, sail. Later I found out he’d bought a sailboat and I was so happy for him until I learned he was in the process of selling it. Too much trouble keeping it up was his reason why. He was divorced and didn’t have anyone to care about except two grown children. I kept in touch for a while, but the last time I spoke with him on the phone, he told me he wouldn’t want to live if something ever happened to his kids. Gosh!

I have a son, daughter-in-law, grandson and a sister and her family and I look forward to talking on the phone with them and visiting whenever possible. I don’t think about negative things that might happen to them or me. I just enjoy them and look forward to sharing my life with them and vice versa, now and in the future. There still are so many things I want to do, experience and share.

Although I’ve tried to be sensible, passion has made my life more rewarding and fulfilling. My mother taught me to be a “Save for a rainy day, but also enjoy each and every day to the fullest” kind of gal. But, for me, the special ingredient of passion has made “fullest even fuller.”

How about you, have you ever analyzed what drives you in life? I’d love to hear.

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

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The Real Color of a Beautiful Epiphany by J J Dare

There is a little boutique in the middle of town one of my daughters loves. Every time she comes to visit, we end up going to this quirky little dress shop.

Hanging in the window display was a beautiful blue blouse. Well, I’ll correct myself: a beautiful blouse. My daughter argued it was not blue. She said it was a beautiful green blouse.

She wears contacts and I wear glasses, we’re both corrected to 20/20, so it was a toss-up as to who was right. We consulted the dress shop owner, who, though she’s been helpful before, was no help now.

“It says ‘blue-green’ on the invoice,” she said with a shrug and a smile.

My daughter and I looked at it again.

“Blue,” I said.

“Green,” she said.

Impasse, we both agreed.

She saw green and I saw blue. As it turns out, we were both right.

We all view the world around us through different eyes. What I see may never be exactly what you see. It makes it very interesting to know you are viewing life in your own unique way and in a way no one else can.

Within the structure of my novels is the language of normal, every day people. What I didn’t take into account was what is normal to me (y’all back yet, don’t that beat all, how’s it going, you gonna eat that, etc.) may not be normal to others.

My language is common and somewhat regional. However, what is common and regional to me may be foreign to others. The same holds true with writing: what I consider stuffy and stiff may be normal language to some people.

I’m loose and free in my conversational skills and it reflects heavily in my writing. I talk like the everyman. I write the same way.

But, there in front of my face was the type of stilted writing I typically steer clear of. The dialogue between the characters was as if they were putting on airs. Their affected conversation sounded silly and pretentious.

I read a few comments on this little piece of writing and was very surprised to see some people (including two English professors and a linguistics major) were raving about how they loved the writing.

Eh, well, I could see that. These were people who preached “the word is the word” and lived in the world of proper language. Even though I’m an English major, I’ve often thought I was better suited for a Real World English degree.

A few more comments came in and these were from ordinary students. One was in biology, two were business students, and one was aiming for a major in whatever he had enough credits for by the time his funding ran out.

They echoed the education professionals: they loved the style of writing.

What the heck was going on? I looked at the excerpt again and still found the words lacking in warmth, sincerity and realism. I was a harsh critic, blunt where I’m usually kind and sharp where I’m typically gentle. After all, who is the best critic of one’s own writing but oneself?

I had written a short dialogue as an exercise in writing outside of my normal style. I was mimicking the stilted style I found unreal and unnatural. I was mocking what I, apparently, didn’t understand.

Like the real world, the world of writing is subject to the eye of the beholder. While I found this type of writing abnormal and uncomfortable, others did not see it that way.

I learned a lesson. What is not liked by one person is loved by another. Pickled herring is yucky to me, but I know plenty of people who swear by it.

On that day, I learned that green is blue and blue is green and I shouldn’t judge a book, even one of my own, by its cover.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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An Elephant Floating in the Sky

I’ve started paying more attention to the trivial things around me lately. My reasoning? I realized there is a potential storyline in all I see. It was an awe-inspiring moment when I began to look at events, even the tiniest ones, as stories.

On the road the other day, I saw this. It led to the first two lines of one more addition to my WIPs (also, listening to Stanley Fish on NPR inspired): “A plastic dollar store bag was hanging high above the ground, caught in the spindly arms of a leafless winter tree and pregnant with rain from a thousand storms. The bulbous yellow sack was a dozen feet above the ground, lethargically twisting in the tepid evening air.” (Facebook)

This was the beginning of my journey into what I’m calling “selfless discovery.” Instead of discovering oneself, I have been discovering “otherwise.”

There’s the leathery old man leaning with fatigue against the check-out counter at the dollar store – a frightened shoe lying in the middle of the muddy dirt road – the cold house with a boarded window and a dozen cats lounging outside. All of these and more have a story screaming to be told.

A year ago, I had a dream of an elephant floating in the sky. Now, I finally get it: like the expression “an elephant in the room,” my elephant meant I was seeing too many stories to ignore. My “sky” refers to the unlimited supply of writing material all around me, updating every day, every hour, and every minute.

I look at a calendar from last year and see the dates I’ve marked. My 2010 is a complete story in itself. Some events are trivial and some are not. My chapters could be entitled, “January, February,” and so on. It is a diary of my life and the lives of loved ones in 2010.

When I talked to a friend about my epiphany, he congratulated me on my “existential moment.” Although I wanted to agree with him in hopes of polishing up my tarnished new-age persona, the “moment” didn’t feel so much existential as it did experiential.

Curiosity fuels these flames. During my many cross-country driving trips over the years, I’ve always been curious about the lives of the people in the houses I pass. What are their fears, dreams, realities? Are they content or simply existing? What are their stories?

Experiences are stories, even those not of our own. That penny you see on the ground is a novel – the tales it could tell of the many hands it passed through. Think of this the next time you look at . . . anything.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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