Enlightenment can happen in the most unlikely places. It doesn’t wait for you; it comes after you like a NFL linebacker hungry for a Super Bowl ring. When it hits you, there is no mistaking that your new realization is going to have consequences.
Why do some lessons take so long to learn? Why do we seem to repeat some mistakes over and over until one day we finally get it? When we finally do get it, why does it often come at the least likely moment?
Moments such as finding yourself in a frost covered Pontiac, refueling at pump no. nine when your confusion turns into clarity. The fumes of gasoline could have helped my personal moment of enlightenment, but you’ve got to take wisdom no matter how it’s induced. There you find yourself, finally putting the pieces together in a place that seems to have no connection with the enigma you’ve just solved.
It’s tough enough to just figure things out, but discovering why certain challenges take more time to solve deserves some critical thought.
Some say that our brains simply need more time than we allow in our light-speed addicted world. Solving problems can be a dirty business that demands several experiences until useful knowledge is burned into our brain. It can be so futile to push problems into poor and hastily constructed solutions. Working things out is often a methodical and tedious process that often seems to go best when you let go of the quick fix. The best place for working out problems may not be underneath the bright lights of a gas station, but perhaps it’s only important that you find some place.
French philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal thought all the miseries of the world were related to our inability to sit alone in a quiet room and hash things out. Considering that he wrote this little bit of wisdom somewhere in the 17th century, it’s spooky to think why we haven’t taken his advice more seriously.
For those of you who think sitting in a room and working out your problems is a waste of perfectly good Internet surfing time, consider that Pascal practiced what he preached. He invented the first digital calculator and other handy scientific-sounding things from his reflective place.
Speed and its offspring quickness and efficiency are things we should value. They help us avoid the use of phrases like “painfully drawn out” and “time stood still.” But even the best tools don’t fix every problem project. Taking time to let yourself reflect on your life experiments is crucial to avoid being named the first person to earn a Ph.D. in mistakes.
You may share the same feeling that I often experience: You’re already well on the way to earning such a degree. Have no fear though, just when you believe you will never solve the cyclical mistakes of your life, wisdom greets you at gas station. It may just be a sign that reflective time comes for all of us whether we like it or not. Just make sure you choose a venue of your own liking.