Real life moments are flashes of sudden realization that I like to call A-HA occasions. We all experience these sudden times when the neon light goes off in our head. A-HA can be shocking, wistful, exciting, mortifying, or even astonishing. My brain is certainly not hard-wired for instant recall, so many times I am left floundering until the A-HA realization occurs. Other times, they hit me square in the face with no warning! These little intelligence wires play a truly important role. They are the FEDEX brain truck that delivers breaking VIP news that we didn’t even know was en route. Surprise! Didn’t see that coming, you think. And now the package is yours to open and digest.
There is no control involved here and I would much prefer knowing my ideas have been ordered and I could track their flight status, secure in the face they are on the way. But no, I could be out trimming rosebushes and suddenly, the name of the movie I saw 6 months ago comes to mind. I didn’t order this! Plus, you must know that A-HA moments are not always the delivery of good or banal news. You could be in a restaurant and suddenly realize that was the exact table your husband asked for the divorce. Ugh! Who knew that dart was coming? Then the appetite has vanished. These unpredictable brain flashes seem to come more and more these days, but I try not to distress. I simply welcome them as important knowledge being delivered in an unorthodox package.
Like, when something just does not feel right about a person? A-HA moments can also teach us mindfulness. I’ve been at social gatherings where I glanced at one person in the room and knew the connection felt lousy. Stay away, don’t waste your time, it instructs me, and I appreciate that insight.
On one occasion, Mr. Faceless Face was grabbing an appetizer and it occurred to me suddenly he was the brash, entitled ophthalmologist who ended up being the subject of many negative medical reviews and terrible outcomes with people I knew. Rather than assault him with my words and say, “You should think about another career,” I bit my tongue and tried my mindfulness thing. Neither of us would have benefited from a buffet brawl, so I avoided him expertly the rest of the evening and salvaged a night at the otherwise lovely gathering. Not an easy task, especially if one is the owner of a hot fuse.
I experienced a much unexpected A-HA moment of a different kind after running into the dean of a private university, where he had been my boss for many years. When I saw his face in the grocery one evening, my A-HA moment was riddled with embarrassment. Upon the first day of work with the dean, he graciously took the time to give me a tour of the entire university grounds. He was a first-class gentleman, had great manners and insisted he show me around campus. We strolled among hundreds of students for about a half hour and stopped at the School of Architecture. I was spell bound as he explained the historic limestone building design. Without warning, as we stood in the August heat, the elastic in my slip snapped, collapsed to the ground, and puddled around my shoes. Oh, Baby Jesus, noooooo! The dean didn’t skip a beat in his description of the building while I gracefully yet quickly stepped out of my slip, opened my purse and ever so gently stuffed said slip inside. Quickly. Fleetingly. That could be called a “shocking, make-your-heart-stop” A-HA moment, but the silly memory brought laughter and a chagrined smile to my face.
Some A-HA moments bring great relief like, “sweating profusely under the armpits” relief. While studying all night for finals in a class, I simply could not come up with answers for several multiple-choice questions. I eyed up the page, down the page, and up again. Then, like sparklers in my brain, answers came to me. Talk about A-HA that saved my butt! I was so grateful all my cramming had stuffed that knowledge deep in my brain crevices and was plucked out at just the right time.
But A-HA moments do not always provide positive results like the exam I experienced –I can guarantee you that. You may think they minimize your stress, but that is so not real. As a full-blooded southerner, I am a people pleaser by nature, but A-HA moments don’t care to please. They are just authentic humanity on display. I have learned to not hide in an A-HA moment; there is no point. People will judge you either way, and it’s their problem. These moments allow you to live your authentic life, and experience feelings and emotions in real time – not bottled up or meticulously curated – because that weakens your intuition and spikes your cortisol! Just flow with it… that’s the chicken and waffles way.
My family lived near Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Quite a few of the priests were friendly with my family and would come to our home often for appetizers and wine. Of course, it’s New Orleans…all those Fathers totally enjoyed a glass or three of wine. Well, I was a teen and one evening I decided to spend the evening with them. They were so well travelled and interesting. While talking to Father Marcus, I leaned over to the side table, utterly starving, and devoured a handful of what seemed like nuts and raisins from a small bowl. The saliva in my mouth tasted like lavender and lemony citrus while I crunched on plant materials and spices. Oh God, it was potpourri!!! It was crunchy and nasty, and I had to have a poker face. I happened to grab a napkin and spit while Father Marcus turned to another priest. That A-HA moment almost put me in an early grave.
Remember that A-HA moments have a very special place in life. They can bring you to a resolution on a difficult problem. We all live the life we are meant to live, and our scripts are mapped out at birth. Since decisions have consequences, these A-HA moments guide us the right way whether it unpleasant or not. It’s a memory advantage like lagniappe. That light bulb in our head gives us inspiration and insight no matter how painful, embarrassing, or simply a wonderful memory. It confirms our identity as a human being. So, allow your mind to wander, allow more happiness in your life and daydream. These are the things A-HA moments are made of. The trajectory of your life depends on it, and if you want more A-HA, you must surrender and be open to these unexpected truth bombs.