Todd’s Two Cents – Moments of Clarity

Moments of clarity are times when something that you were confused about or something you just didn’t know becomes clear – an epiphany, an “ah-ha moment” – when you realize something important and pivotal.  Sometimes the feeling of what to do next is right in front of you.

This week I had some meetings on the topic “moments of clarity”. People shared all sorts of stories about these special moments. One person talked about dealing with their teenager during the pandemic. Where everything they tried to tell the teenager was met with resistance. The boy just “wouldn’t do anything”. Then the parent realized his pushing wasn’t working, in fact pushing harder just pushed the boy further away. This epiphany started the road back to communication with the him. A mom told of a job opening that she took so she could spend more time with her kids and how that crossroads moment changed her life for the better (but may have hurt her career). Others talked about deciding to get married (or get divorced) as moments of clarity.

Some questions that may be helpful in finding or pondering your moments of clarity are

  • Can you remember something awkward or uncomfortable that has happened to you lately?
  • When in your life have you had to decide to move, change jobs, etc.
  • What is the best decision you made in your life? Worst?

These questions can help you remember some of your moments of clarity. They can be the surprise kind where you are blind-sided or the cross-roads kind where you have to choose to go left or right in life.

When I was 22, I left Minnesota for the first time. I went to New York state to go to graduate school at Cornell University. When I had been there two months, my dad died. I went home for the funeral. While there, I visited the University of Minnesota and they offered me a teaching assistantship, like I had at Cornell. I took it and moved home with my mom and little brother, who was a senior in high school. I lived with mom for one year then I moved to Minneapolis when my brother went to college. Many times, after that momentous event I wondered if I had done the right thing. I formed a resentment sort of like, “If I had stayed in New York, I could have been a famous scientist or musician or?” Instead, I did finish my PhD in chemistry at the University of Minnesota and became a teacher and a sometimes-pro musician.

One day when I was minding my own business the memory of my two months in New York came back to me. I had gotten in some trouble with my drinking and drug use while there. I was physically thrown out of a bar one night. I experimented with some drugs I had not tried before. I was hanging out with people I probably shouldn’t have, etc. Then the thought occurred to me, “Wow, maybe it was a good thing I came back from New York, I may not have survived.” Then I had a giant moment of gratitude, because I realized I had lived my life here and got to spend all this time with my mom and met a wonderful woman and had three beautiful kids. I had become a great teacher and a pretty good musician. Etc. I no longer had the resentment of possibilities lost.

Anyway, here’s to hoping you enjoy your moments of clarity. Try to be open to them when they come. I’ve always thought they are important.