Epiphany. The moment when the brain leaps out of its self imposed boundaries. A rare moment. A good moment. A moment of wonder.
I recently had an epiphany and shared it with my friend, Adam. He felt it too. “Let’s write about it,” he said. It was a good suggestion. We both shared a love of writing and both had been too busy with more mundane projects. OK, we agreed, maybe this will get us back to writing again.
Adam and I were surrounded by a babel of friends, all celebrating a combination birthday and new neighbor get-together in our crowded kitchen. My epiphany started with a glimpse through the kitchen screen door, past people on an adjoining deck. I focused well beyond the guests, on a small section of lake, just a corner with a grassy bank, all under an old willow tree where a rustic wooden foot-bridge to the island began. It was an incomplete snapshot of all that was there, but compelling in the slanting rays of a setting sun.
This focusing-in is something I’ve noted in the past. Train a 20-power telescope on a limited-scene area, to turn a single flower, a few blades of grass, or a lizard on a pile of rocks into an amazing epiphany-like image.
What beauty. This limited view could stand on its own. The epiphany that struck me was that the 30 acres of our land was all so beautiful and none of us were really appreciating it. More like taking it for granted as a routine thing in our lives.
Now I thrilled to the limited and solitary scene of beauty. The scene could easily stand on its own. The thought rolled out as an epiphany. The 30 acres of our land, all so beautiful and hardly sufficiently appreciating it, almost taking it for granted.
Our Putah Creek savanna was a paradise deserving worship. My little scene this afternoon only a tiny part of equal beauty everywhere in this area of Northern California; rolling hills of grasslands native trees and creatures, varied and distant views, gardens and orchards, streams and lakes. More than a hundred species of birds. Countless lizards, snakes, frogs, fish, insects, deer, coyote, skunk, pheasant, turkey, opossum, raccoon, chaparral, oak and pine. Almost every kind of fruit and nut and grape are grown in our bountiful region. On my land our bounty was not commercial, rather for our own pleasure. Even at that moment we were celebrating with cabernet sauvignon wine, homegrown and homemade. Delicious.
I opened the screen for a clearer view, then closed it, liking the mystic effect of the more shaded scene. I thought, “at first through the glass darkly, then face to face.” I was indeed face to face with my epiphany. I vowed to abandon my sluggard ways and start making more future time available for the vibrations my soul felt in this natural moment. No, I thought, forget the future, we only live – are only really alive – in the present. See, smell, hear and touch, now, with body, soul and mind.
I shared this with Adam. He smiled and said, “Write! Take the snapshot and burn it into your brain!” I recalled for Adam Joseph Conrad’s statement, “Writing is the ax that allows us to break the ice of the frozen sea within.” Our epiphanies united, our powerful union.
Writing requires thinking in the moment and remembering our emotional response. Alfred North Whitehead wrote that, “Emotions are of the moment, derived from the past and directed toward the future.” My epiphany reminds me to pause and appreciate the truths and beauties of life and living.
My advice? Unfreeze! Look around in wonder. Absorb the sensuous moment. Feel and remember the rush!
Such sensuous moments, philosophical and poetic musings will be featured in my next book coming out 2018: “Adventures in 20th Century Poetic Living”