Epiphany highs are those times when you feel awakened and renewed after supposedly having a breakthrough. They are very common as adolescents in the course of character development. You find a clever bit of wisdom—change comes from within—and you think it’ll solve all of your personal problems if only one thing were different. For a few weeks, you feel pumped up and excited to live with a renewed philosophy. You might experience temporary successes thinking this is what I’ve been doing wrong all this time1 But the effects always wear off in the end. That’s when you start looking for another life-changing realization to kick-off the cycle again. In retrospect, all of these profound sayings will end up sounding trite and absurd. No philosophical outlook can satisfy you forever. Perhaps on another day, you might hear don’t fix it if it ain’t broke and experience the very same thing.
As you go through different epiphanies, you have to look in more places. After you exhaust the Internet, you will read books or watch foreign films and television. You can dive into religion or become a cynic, then a optimist, then a classicist and a romanticist. You will encounter cosmology and be satisfied with the stars, or you’ll observe humans and revel in belittling amusement2. It feels like something has finally clicked in your life and you’re ready to move on, only to return to where you started when the effects subside. You easily enter a cycle where a pursuit of philosophical wisdom quickly transforms into a drug-like addiction for mental equanimity. Self-help books. Hipster quotes. Journals and blogs. They are all part of your exploits. You want to declare to the world that you’ve found a new lifestyle, a new living attitude that supersedes those of your past and anybody else’s. It’s a manifesto. You, explaining yourself to the world.
The cycle grows shorter, more convenient and efficient until wisdom bounces off of you like nicotine off a habituated synapse. Soon you realize that you’re only able to live when you’re on these bouts of progress—these epiphany highs. But who are we to judge that a tail-chasing quest in philosophy is an improper way to live? The practical problem lies in the delusion that there is something golden at the end of the hunt that will satisfy our curious minds like no other. In reality, it’s difficult to argue that any one way of thinking appeals to everybody. In the meantime, it appears that it’s simply best to take your time, not to rush.
- When people want to introduce a subordinating clause that is the belief or voice of another person, they use the word oh. He was like, oh, I’m top of the class and I don’t even study. It’s not a subordinating conjunction! That and which are conjunctions! ↩
- Philosophy about astronomy is usually accompanied by blank stares and dazed expressions. Philosophy about human observations is usually accompanied by stupid laughs and carefree idiocy. ↩