Searching for an ah ha
I’m boarding a plane in the Las Vegas airport in 45 minutes, and in that time I’m determined to have a big, fat epiphany; a cosmic “Ah ha!” moment leaving me forever transformed.
I won’t pretend that this need of mine isn’t chemically induced, as I’ve just gulped down a double tall latte, which seems to make me instantly over-ambitious. But that doesn’t make it any less sincere, or serious.
I was sitting next to a girl at gate 35 a few minutes ago, and I noticed that on her ankle was a tattoo that read, “May 23, 2004.” No dancing bears or Japanese symbols, just black ink on pink skin, circling like an anklet.
I can also see the first few letters of what I’m guessing is the name of a city, but I can’t quite make it out without leaning really far over, and I get the feeling that I may have been staring at her ankle long enough as it is.
In my fabricated version, the origin of her tattoo had more alcohol involved than coffee, but she obviously had a significant enough life experience that she committed it to her leg. The past week in Vegas was fun, but hardly life-altering. Let’s just say that I was never tempted to have “AV Guy, Radiology After Five Conference, Las Vegas, October ’05” etched anywhere on my body.
But I’ve still got about 30 minutes left – surely something big can happen.
I mean, why not shake the apple tree, rather than just sit and wait for one to fall on your head? Why not meet “Eureka” halfway? Who’s to say that my “Mr. Watson, I need you” moment can’t come while talking on my cell phone? There are enough flashing lights around here that one is bound to go off directly over my head.
Right? Well then, let’s go.
That Wheel of Fortune slot machine, the one that screams “WHEEL OF FORTUNE” every 3 minutes. It’s really loud. Am I too timid in my life? Do I need to be louder? More forceful? Commanding? Probably, but I don’t see it happening. Next …
Look, a pay phone! Yesterday’s technology, and someone is actually using it! Meaning … uh … that I shouldn’t be so concerned with technology and should instead be concerned with communication? That I should carry more change with me? What? No … dead end.
The carpet pattern is interesting, but not quite insight-provoking, no matter what song is on my iPod at the time. I’ve tried the gamut of my collection, from Ministry to Jeff Buckley to Blind Willie McTell, and nothing so far lines up to part the heavens. I am getting a bit queasy though, so maybe this is another dead end.
Let’s see … designated smoking area, Cinnabon, man in a wheelchair, overheard conversation in Midwestern accent (“Well, it just goes to show that it’s a sad state of affairs when …”), woman shaking a small stuffed jet toy at passersby to try to inspire them to sign up for a credit card and get 15,000 bonus miles. Hmmm … nothing.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Except that the plane boards in 5 minutes and I’m still the same old person.
Maybe there’s a clue on my boarding pass. 17F – window seat – me, the perpetual observer. Should I be more involved? Roll up my sleeves rather than folding my arms. Or maybe the window is symbolic of a dirty window. Maybe I need to clean my perception? Maybe I need to “see” with my heart, and not with my eyes? Maybe I need to look at the names of slot machines again.
“White Ice,” “Double 5,” “Red, White and Blue.” Gambling. Do I take enough risks? Am I playing it too safe? Should I go to the bathroom one more time before I board? Definitely.
And then, just as I was about to give up, while walking down the aisle to my seat, it hit me! Oh my God, of course! OF COURSE!!
No … not really. Nothing hit me. No “of course.” I just thought I’d try one last time to fake it out. It didn’t work. I’m sitting down in 17F unchanged, epiphanyless.
At this point the best I can hope for is that the person in 17E doesn’t try to talk to me so I can get some sleep.
Transformation is exhausting.
Barry Smith is an Aspen-based freelance writer whose work is syndicated by Sol Media Syndicate.
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