Posted by: Liz Massey | January 9, 2008

Epiphanies and aha’s

Last Sunday was the official day of Epiphany, the Christian holiday that, for many, also traditionally marks the end of the Christmas season.

I’m actually thinking more lately about little-“e” epiphanies: which according to this dictionary definition concern “an intuitive grasp of reality through something…usually simple and striking” or “an illuminating discovery, realization or disclosure.”

These definitions sound very much like the cognitive and emotional “snap” of the creative “aha” moment. My personal feeling is that all epiphanies contain an “aha” moment, but not all creative insights are necessarily at the level of an epiphany, which to me would signal a significant change in perspective, or a life-altering realization.

Can we cultivate an epiphany? Or are they, as many feel about the creative process, something that happens to us, with at best our “effortless action” (what the Taoists call wu wei) involved in its happening, rather than something that we can plan on?

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