Epiphanies are easy, practice is not

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 2, 2015, 9:49 PM | comments: 0

The Internet is ripe with stories of epiphany, where someone makes some life-changing realization that causes them to instantly shit rainbows and puppies, for the rest of their lives. This kind of breakthrough narrative isn't particularly inspirational for me, I suppose because the realizations are rarely non-obvious. If there's one thing that I've tried very hard to be in the last 10 years, it's self-aware. If you can commit to that, it's funny how so many things about life are obvious.

So as far as epiphanies go, I've had plenty. They aren't very hard to come by. Practicing these great nuggets of life-altering joygasms is something entirely different. For example, when I unexpectedly re-entered the world of dating, my goal was largely to land a new partner and live happily ever after. More to the point, I was entirely focused on outcomes and the future, and almost completely incapable of living in the moment. Moments were about worrying if there would be more moments.

Then one day, while having a moment with someone I was hoping I would have more moments with, it occurred to me that I was completely focused on when we would next have a moment. The intensity and joy of the moment was nearly lost on me. That was when I had the epiphany that I needed to live in the moment. I was having a human connection in a way that perhaps some people may not get to have at all, and I was squandering it.

That was an important moment for me. But as important as the realization was, it didn't change my behavior instantaneously. It has taken a great deal of practice to get it right, and I still don't always remember. With Simon, I've tried to enjoy the simplest moments, and really take them in. Whether it was just rocking with him as an infant, or watching his smiles and screams on a roller coaster ride, I try to slow down time and take it in. Similarly, I've tried to enjoy the times in those romantic and friend relationships.

Still, I get hung up on the future. I think about how I have to save money. I get anxious if I don't have my next vacation planned. I worry that I might be getting away from life in the moment, maybe because I'm heading toward mid-life.

The need to live in the moment is just one of many epiphanies I've had about ways to make my life better. I can't say any of them are easy. Self-awareness, as it turns out, isn't enough to instigate meaningful change. Change isn't that easy.


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