“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” ~Sylvia Plath
Epiphanies. Insights. Oracles.
We are moving through our daily lives, when suddenly a FLASH of knowingness hits us. Out of seemingly nowhere, we realize something major. We are tempted to immediately change directions.
Sometimes these insights are our intuition — shaking us by the shoulders and beckoning us towards our lives.
But sometimes what looks like a revelation is just fear in disguise — a flashing neon sign pointing us in the wrong direction.
The scared lizard-like part of our brains will do just about anything to protect us from trying something new. Sometimes our resistance a big obvious panic, a shaking in our bodies… and sometimes it’s the sudden hum of saying “Whatever – I don’t care that much about ____(something we really cared about)_____ anyways.”
This apathetic lullaby from adolescence, this seductive groove we fall back into, derails everything we have worked towards. This indifference sweeps us off our feet and drops us right back off in the comfortable spot where we started.
These false epiphanies usually show up right before the launch/the breakthough/the Yes/the miracle.
In 2015, I caught the vision to self-publish a book about the creative process…. so I spent every scrap of “free time” for a year to make that happen. In February 2016, my book Robot Coconut Trees was complete. The editing was finished. The cover and interior were designed.
(Sure, my eyes were bloodshot… and I had looked at the words so many times that I hardly remembered what I had written… but my book was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. This was a big deal.)
The week before publication day, a fog fell over my brain and cloaked the publishing experience with a deadened sense of apathy. An “Eh – I don’t care that much about this” mentality.
I had the “epiphany” that Robot Coconut Trees was the same as any other writing book, that it had nothing new to offer. I had the “realization” that I shouldn’t bother marketing my book because its success didn’t matter to me. I “suddenly understood” that my book wasn’t special or worth celebrating. And I was “okay with that.”
All lies. All spiritualized BS lies – stemming from the scared part of me that would rather slip alongside the wall unseen than dare to stand behind the book that I wrote.
These lies didn’t stop me from launching the book, but they stopped me from getting it in the hands of readers. After publication day, I had the “whimsical” desire to fill my book marketing time-slots with unrelated activities. I worked longer hours at my day job for no reason. I signed up for private Pilates sessions that I didn’t have time to take. Anything to fill in the space. Anything to avoid my book and stay small.
* * *
Don’t take your realizations as 100% truth at first glance. Take a moment to get curious about what might lie beneath the surface. Coax some light out of your epiphanies.
Take your desires out to dinner. Listen to your impulses with an unbounded compassion and curiosity that we rarely afford ourselves because we’re so busy trying to move ahead.
What would Life look like if we approached every sudden impulse with a lightened sense of curiosity? What could change if we took the extra time to truly SEE each fearful thought that disguises itself in the language of our desires?
Could we create the space let those small-minded thoughts go? Could we circle back to our glowing kinetic center, where our intuition and guidance and big-hearted gutsiness reigns free? Could we better distinguish between the two?
* * *
My life is going through another transition right now, and all I want to do is write poems about my past that I’m afraid to share. I want to go shopping without melting down into a distorted body image puddle in a sterile fitting room. I want to eat pizza with my first-grade nephews and admire their wiggly teeth.
I want to try Pilates again – this time without using it as a way to avoid marketing my book. I want to press pause, to pay attention to my boyfriend, to sit on our porch surrounded by habanero pepper plants and just breathe it all in.
I want to unapologetically mentor other writers and quarter-life women. I don’t want to live in fear of copying other spiritual teachers who are already doing the same thing.
Is my soul nudging me to slow down, to enjoy the journey, to find a new pace of life that is more serene? Do I really want these things? Or am I avoiding myself? Am I sidestepping my raw desires? Am I missing an opportunity to get present to the confusion + fear that comes with a big transition?
May we see our epiphanies as radical opportunities for self-inquiry. May we ask the right questions. May we discern between the red herrings and the white-hot embers of intuition.
May we get curious. May we trust ourselves. May we celebrate and forgive our messy, avoidance-prone selves.
And may we muster up the bravery to advance full-steam ahead when we realize that a blazing holy epiphany is Real and Raw and about to wildly transform our lives.
Peace and Conch Shells to our Hearts,