Have someone else’s words ever “spoken” directly into to your life?
You could be reading, or maybe listening to someone talk, even fighting to pay attention, but then all of a sudden it’s like a certain line or idea jumps out at you. It feels as though whatever you heard or saw was somehow meant to catch your attention—as if the whole world stopped to paint you a familiar picture, delivering relevant insight at just the right moment to touch on the current core issues of your being.
I call that illumination.
It happened a lot to me in college. I might have been exhausted after working all day, doing all I could to stay awake through some monotonous lecture; but then something said would cause me to light up on the inside like a neon sign, catching and consuming my attention.
When illumination happens, it feels too perfect to be a coincidence.
One night a couple years ago, I was thinking about how intuition might relate to art and creativity. I happened to hear the episode of Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF, where Marc interviews Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Atoms for Peace. The interview was fascinating enough, but then Thom said something that essentially cast a spotlight on the very theme I’d already been rolling around. He shared that his experience with making art has entirely been a process of learning to follow and trust his intuitions.
I got excited.
Later that night, I was reading Seth Godin’s daily blog post. Seth’s point that day—painted as always in the most beautifully touching, simple word pictures—was that relying only on what’s worked before (instead of following intuition) is always a flawed approach to creativity.
“This rearview window analysis,” writes Seth, “is anathema to the creative breakthrough that we call art.”
It was as if Thom and Seth’s words that night had been fated for me to hear. The timing was just too perfect.
I took Seth’s charge at the end of his post very personally, where readers are encouraged to be “the few that have the guts to put great work into the world instead”.
Later that night, I got high and wrote:
“When it seems that something someone says speaks into your life, it’s like an inward confirmation that what you believe about the direction you want to go is correct, even despite circumstances that might make you doubt.
“I wouldn’t limit the scope of illumination; I see such connections happening everywhere, in different places for different people.”
How does any of this relate to recording and sharing your real experience so you can face and overcome addiction?
Well, you alone don’t see the whole picture. None of us were meant to live, and grow, and chase our dreams in isolation . . . at least not forever.
Even hermit crabs thrive within the found shells of others for a time. Despite their name, hermit crabs don’t do well alone for long.
Illumination naturally connects you to others who share your values—those already moving (or wanting to move) in the same direction as you.
I believe illuminations can be like signposts that serve to connect you with the specific people, ideas, and pursuits that are right for you to run with.
As for controlling addiction, illumination gives the experience you go public with weight beyond just what you currently know.
Illuminations are like confirmations that inspire you to trust your intuitions, even when life gives you reasons to doubt.
As you prepare to share your experience, be sure to maintain an outward focus as well as an inward one. You have to be somewhat outward focused once you actually go public, anyway.
Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. See your intuitions as leads to follow; then read, listen, watch, learn…
Don’t ever think you have the whole picture.
We live at an amazing time when information is fast becoming free. When I began college, you had to be a registered student to access digital copies of academic journals through the school database. Now those resources are available through public library websites and search engines.
One night, after fishing through Wikipedia for references related to a particular idea, I became aware of the term “self-actualization.” It seemed relevant to what I was working on, so I searched for information through several free digital academic journals. Even many of the search results that weren’t directly related to my original project seemed to speak perfectly to other ideas and projects I was thinking about.
In short, I’d set myself up through a little easy research to be “spoken to.”
If you want to experience more illuminations, listen more. Read and hear others’ shared experiences more.
Stay open. Connect. Hear every perspective you can.
Illuminations give weight to your hopes about how you think things should or could play out.
When it comes to facing and overcoming your current limitations and addictions, seeing the direction you want to go being attested to by others bolsters your expectation and willingness to commit to your goals.
Have you ever been “spoken to” by something you heard, saw, or read?
Tomorrow: what getting an education might mean today, and how to control for the GIGO factor in terms of your own perspective.