The operative word in the phrase "light-bulb moment" is moment. Like incidental joys, epiphanies only happen in the present. Perhaps an epiphany resembles a light switch more than the light itself. You fumble about in a dark room, feeling your way around furniture, moving carefully so you don't stumble into walls. You're looking for something -- some tool or object -- you know it ought to be in here somewhere... Wasn't it over on the desk? Your hand lands on something that must be it -- it's the right size and shape… You drag what you hope is the object you're looking for back out the door and into the lighted hallway.
That's not it. You go back in a second time, moving more quickly toward the blacked-out corner where you expect to find what you're looking for. You make multiple trips, again and again, each time moving more quickly, with more confidence, with memories of the path around what you used to trip over or run up against.
With successive experiences, you get hotter, faster -- you haven't found what you're looking for, but you're slowly but surely removing everything in the vicinity that's NOT the thing you require or desire.
"That's a pen, not a pencil." "That's a dime, not a penny." "That's a receipt, not a check." "There's a note with a name and number -- but that's another note, entirely."
There's a piece of paper with an important bit of information on it -- Awesome! You really need that, you're so glad you found it, you'd all but forgotten or given up on finding that months ago… Too bad it's not the note to self you were hoping to find right now.
It's a process of elimination. Keep trying.
Wouldn't it all go a little faster, become a hell of a lot more efficient, if you turned on a lamp or an overhead light when you enter this dark room? Lights always have switches, so maybe you should look for the light switch first. You spend a moment feeling in the most likely places -- about four feet up the wall, near the door; a little chain or cord hanging down in the middle of the space; up the neck of a heavy object with what has to be a shade…
That moment of illumination changes everything! There it is, in plain sight, the thing you were searching for -- it had fallen to the floor and you must have been stepping over it in the dark; or maybe you anticipated the need to rediscover it when you were here in the recent past -- look, you left it propped up against the pillow on the bed, where you couldn't miss it, just by walking into the room...
...With the light ON.
You turn off the light and leave, important useful practical clue or insight firmly in hand. You're ready to apply it, to use it. You've found what you need.
Now, when you return to that room of misplaced clues and treasure next time, what should you look for first? The switch. Epiphanies are the moments of illumination, enlightenment, and insight. They are the moment when you see the treasure, the tools, the wisdom sitting on the shelf in that room.
Epiphanies are no guarantee of life-changing behavior. Epiphany (such a pretty name, I just like saying the word, don't you?) can't a do damn thing for you if you don't use her as she was intended. Do you take her with you when you leave that room, into the other Spaces of your life? Do you leave her sitting on the shelf, shiny and new, still in the box like a collector's item, an artifact? Or do you plan to unwrap her and play with her?
You don't need all your epiphanies at any given moment, for all given tasks, for all exercises in manifestation, all at once. You need one here, another there.
Maybe epiphanies are like fire-flies. Once you discover one, you begin to see others. They attract one another. They begin to coalesce and to mate. But like the lightning bug right in front of one moment, an epiphany may shift location, reappearing and winking at you again from a slightly different location.
You could try to collect them all in a jar, to light a dark space, but that never works out like you hope, does it? Insights don't survive in captivity.
I've been spotting a lot of new epiphanies lately, with the help of Adam Kayce's Inner Peace Audio collection. The one thing I realize, with my twilight spaces lit by constellations of low-flying eureka sparks, is that witnessing brief moments of wisdom is not quite the same as having them -- possessing them. These lights don't stay on. They come and go.
More than anything, having epiphanies is not the same thing as applying them.
Epiphanies, in and of themselves, don't do anything -- you may do something different because of them. But behavior is a constant, on-going, creative choice -- always shifting, ever so slightly, as you chase the next liberated pixel of the night.
A-ha. You get it. Now what? What do you do, once you get it? When do you do it again? When do you get to stop?
Take action in your moments of light, and all the moments that follow.
Image by Matt Cinque | Flickr via Creative Commons