The Aha! Moment

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Everyone loves the ‘aha!’ moment. What was once obscure suddenly becomes crystal clear. The curtains part and it’s easy to see everything onstage. Eureka! The paradox is that while the ‘aha!’ moment seems to come out of nowhere, while it feels like a gift from the heavens, while it’s experienced as effortless, it’s actually the product of a great deal of hard work and self-reflection.

Many don’t make the conscious connection between everything they’re doing on the back end and that wanted moment of clarity on the front end. The two seem unrelated. In fact people often feel tempted to start to denigrate all the work on the back end, to see it as plodding, pointless stuff that’s not getting any results. Why not just wait around for the heaven sent inspiration to strike instead? Much easier, and much more effective.

But let’s think of the ‘aha!’ moment as a sprout shooting up through the soil. The sprout didn’t just appear out of nowhere. It couldn’t be seen by the naked eye because all of its growth was occurring below the surface of the soil. It required the correct conditions all along, like soil with the preferred acidity and adequate amounts of water and sunlight. The seed has to be planted in the first place and then it has to receive the proper nutrients or it will never sprout. The good gardener can’t force the seed to sprout but can assist in its development. Let’s not forget that the sprout is only an intermediary stage in the development of the plant. An important, exciting stage, but a stage nonetheless. To reach full maturity that plant will require a lot more attention.

So we see that the ‘aha!’ moment is neither a beginning nor an end in the process of human development. It doesn’t come out of nowhere. It represents an intermediary stage of growth where an important aspect of life has become visible, where it has moved from the unconscious realm to the conscious realm. The ‘aha!’ moment is fun, and cause for celebration, but it doesn’t mean  that the long, arduous task of growth is over. That task has only just begun.