Have you ever had a moment when suddenly everything became clear? I’m made to think of days when you look out the window and you can count every leaf on every tree because, for some way you can’t discern, the sun has decided to shine on every one of them–and you don’t know why, but you count those leaves, each and every one of them, and for days, nothing is the same. You know these leaves intimately, you know these trees. And then the clouds roll in, dawn turns to dusk, and somehow all that clarity is clouded curiosity.
Alas, the epiphany. It comes. It goes.
In writing, there’s a trend–so my textbook would insist–for new writers to rely too heavily on epiphanies to develop characters and move plots along. I’m almost certain I’ve fallen for this at times, but I can’t seem to recall any concrete examples in some of my stories. I’m generally opposed to sudden changes in anything, and epiphanies seem too easy sometimes for me to even want to use them much.
No matter, this exercise was all about them.
Suddenly I realized I could not live without him. He was facing me as always–through a screen of cyberspace, fiber-optic wires stretched halfway across the planet and satellites hung in space–and I saw the tear stains on his cheeks and I felt the hardening of my heart. No more could I love. Could I see the faint beauty in a smiling face. No more could I find substance in daily life. Find the mere acts of eating, drinking, sleeping worthwhile because he was there with me, in the recipes he gave me, in the drinks we shared, in the dreams that filled my slumber. No more would I ever be happy. How could I ever be happy after him?
The morning after I woke to sunshine and birds singing and something silent in the realm of soliloquy, that chiming of my heart still sleeping, the aching of my body no longer crying out in passionate screams. The sun still rose. The sky had not fallen. I was okay. And I realized, as I should have realized sooner, that I had seen this coming for weeks. Slowly I watched as his future and mine diverged, as this intermingling of the present itself unraveled all around us. The threads, the strings, those things that bring us all together in the end anyways, I had witnessed–and I had forsaken them to the eleven dimensions of existence, those pitfalls too deep to imagine, too finite to find in laboratories. Hypotheses. And I realized, projected lifetimes withstanding, we had merely brushed elbows for a few moments. Then he was gone. And I was still walking forward without him.
The challenge was to recall a false epiphany, when everything seems certain in one moment, but in the next the opposite is true. Such sweet reversal! I love it when the tides turn and all of sudden everything is what it never seemed. There’s even a term for this in Hebrew–but it’s kind of complicated and I don’t remember it well enough to repeat it, and since it was only told to me, I don’t know where in the Hebrew-English dictionary to find it. But it’s out there. And it’s a fun word to say. Shame I can’t remember it.
In any case, I’d love to give more examples, but I can’t remember any. I don’t typically believe in epiphanies, in divine intervention. The world progresses organically: From something before, comes something after, and the system perpetuates itself, and forever something is growing out of something else. And nothing, nothing is ever spawned wholly from nothing, and threads always linger that tie one thing to another. If we look long enough, trace well enough, we will find nothing comes from nothing, that everything comes from something, and in this mess of mysticism, concrete reality exists in the most natural state of symbiosis the universe has ever seen.
I don’t believe in epiphany. I believe change is constant except at cusps and oscillations when differentiation becomes impossible. I believe in cause and effect. I believe what we reap is what we sow, that a drop in the ocean causes tidal waves and butterflies in the Sahara seed hurricanes in North America, and I believe the Maya knew what they were talking about, but we do not, and I believe the Egyptians knew what they were talking about, but we do not, and I believe we know what we’re talking about, but our descendents will not. I believe information is universal, but knowledge is not. I believe knowledge can be grown, but wisdom only acquired, and I believe God exists, but no amount of proof is necessary–and no evidence is needed. I believe the seamless beauty of the world, the total lack of anything necessitating the existence of a creator, is precisely why I should believe one exists. Flaws in the system would imply flaws in God’s perfection. I like the world this way. It’s the people I detest.
And in the end, in the end I have had a few epiphanies–but were they false epiphanies, like the challenge requested me to imagine? I wouldn’t say so–although, in hindsight, would I recall as such an epiphany that was not? I had an epiphany when I realized people are not all they seem. I had an epiphany when I realized, yes, math is what I love most. I had an epiphany when a burst of inspiration came to me and I knew precisely what to do next to finish the story I was writing–yes, that’s what I tend to call epiphanies: inspiration. Or logical progressions that result in a new understanding of the way things are. But what is inspiration, and what is understanding, and how do we acquire either of them, and isn’t that itself a topic for another conversation, another day separate from this one? Yes, I suppose so. I suppose then, in the end, I let knowledge–wisdom even!–organically arise around me and within me. I do not believe in epiphanies.