Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Aha! Moments

To me, one of the most underrated of moments in life is the AHA! moment.  Some AHA! moments are emotional, such as the exact time and place that you first saw your spouse to be.  For me, that was a day involving a sad neighbor lamenting about spoiled chicken in a closed apartment on a hot summer day.  Some AHA! moments are intellectual in nature.  In the world of Science they are often called Eureka moments, and many great inventions and discoveries have resulted from such unexpected occurrences.  If you spend time with children, either as a parent, teacher or caregiver, you can witness on a daily basis, AHA! moments; new ideas, new skills, new understandings abound as they develop and grow.  Unfortunately, it seems that we experience less of these moments as we age, or at least we perceive less of them.  Or perhaps, we just forget how to recognize them.  Or worse how to appreciate them.

I recently recognized two AHA! moments which I would like to share.

The first involves my eyesight, and more specifically my glasses.  As many maturing individuals of my age group, I have in recent years had difficulty reading with my prescription glasses which, for all my life have been fashioned to address my myopia.  So, as I had seen my dad do so often in his life, I would remove my regular glasses to read.  At one point, about 5 years ago, I had a pair of prescription glasses made that enabled me to read which led to my having to carry them around when I anticipated the necessity.  I also kept the standard prescription glasses that I had before my current strength version because they allowed me to see in the middle range; something I needed when I was delivering newspapers from fall 2010 to spring 2012.  So, ridiculous as it may seem, I had three pairs of glasses that I used for different reasons. 

The obvious answer, of course, was to put aside my pride and be fitted for that dreaded, old age indicator; bifocals.  I finally succumbed late last year, but due to the holidays and the events surrounding my dad's illness and death, I did not pick them up right away.  Avoidance of the inevitable, one might say.

Well, I am glad to say that once I did drag myself back to the eye doctor to pick up the new glasses, I experienced an amazing AHA! moment.  I had decided on the progression style of bifocals; no visible line in the middle of the lenses.  As the young lady who placed them on my head instructed me, I just had to point my nose at what I wanted to see and AHA!, I could see it clearly.  My own personal version of point and click.  No more reading glasses, no more intermediate glasses, no more removing my primary glasses to read small print; just point and click.  Obviously, there have been some minor issues, but all in all, my new glasses are wonderful and I rue the time I spent avoiding the decision to make the leap to bifocals.  (Perhaps another AHA! related to facing ones aging).

The second AHA! moment involves the discovery of a new magazine to read.  I first encountered the knowledge that it existed in a recent issue of Smithsonian which ran a brief piece on a man named Lewis H. Lapham who has been publishing a quarterly magazine for about 5 years.  Each issue focuses on one topic and draws on comments, essays and opinions about that topic from all of written history.
After reading about the man and his magazine, I went on the website and, as in that stupid commercial for V8, I smacked myself in the head and exclaimed; AHA!  Perhaps this is an overstatement, but I felt like the cave person who discovered how to control fire.  Not just because it appeared to be an amazing discovery, but because it made me wonder how I lived before its discovery.  To be more specific, I began to wonder how I could have possibly thought that I knew anything about anything before this revelation concerning Lapham's Quarterly.

Since this was just before Christmas, I ordered a back issue for my son and a year subscription for my wife for Christmas knowing full well that I would also be able to read each issue myself.

(See link below if you wish to check out info concerning this publication)


So, with bated breath I awaited both the arrival of my son's back issue, Christmas morning when he would open it, and both his and my wife's reaction when they could peruse its contents.  AHA!'s all around!!

A quick diversion here.  As some might know, but most of you do not, I work for a Wine and Spirits Store.  In the larger scheme of things, I generally excuse this line of work as a way to support my family and provide me with the opportunity to write.  What I am saying is that I don't consider this line of work all that important compared to careers that involve teaching, serving the public good, and/or improving the lives of others.  Don't get me wrong, I still do my best to help my customers choose the correct libation, while providing them with a safe, clean, friendly environment in which to do so.  But as for making a difference in someone's life...  

So, much to my surprise, the very first issue that my wife receives of Lapham's Quarterly is titled Intoxication and includes essays from as diverse a list of notables as you could imagine.  Lincoln, Cato, Harp Marx, Socrates.  Words from times before the age of Christ to as recent as 2008.  Opinions as to the good, the bad, the highs and lows of humankind's experiments with both the mind blowing and the everyday modes of altering one's mood and perception.  I have only just begun reading the issue, but already feel a bit better about my function as a perveyor of fine wines and spirits, and the importance of this commodity in history of man.  Granted, its still not the spiritual uplifting that I hope that I might occasionally provide via my writing.  But it isn't just sloppy drunks on a Friday night either.

AHA! moments; priceless.

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