By a certain point in life, one sometimes believes they know themselves well enough; that random epiphanies and revelations occur only to later turn out as extensions of what we already know. Yet then the right set of ideas, circumstances, emotions and frame of mind align and we experience something we might have begun to think impossible: a new revelation about ourselves.
This revelation, however it happens, can occur due to a shattering life experience. However, though it may be through my own limited experience of the world and the people I know, often these revelations come at the oddest and seemingly most mundane times. One such revelation emerged piece by piece over the past week, though the bulk of it formed over the course of plane trips to and from my hometown for the holidays. While it's too personal a revelation to speak of right now, too close to my emotional core, for the sake of expanding on the randomness of revelation I'll elaborate a tad on what concepts and items of inspiration led to the ultimate realization.
The holidays, as we grow up, fire within many of us deep rooted memories, emotions, familial ties, traditions -- whether good or bad, we constantly grapple with the past and either fight or strive to work towards or against that past. I have yet to meet anyone who treats the holiday season with complete ambivalence, and if I ever do I'm likely to even chalk that emotion up to influences from their past. Combine this with the stress of life, work, money, relationships, adulthood -- all those things we deal with on a daily basis -- amplified by the rush and fervor of the season and it's already a cocktail for examination of our lives.
Flying always causes a certain amount of reflection for me, mostly because I'll think of anything to keep me from focusing on the miraculous and always potentially horrific science and luck that allows us to fly. It's one of those commonalities of modern life which I refrain from contemplating too much lest I go mad with the knowledge of all that can go wrong.
The final unexpected ingredient in the revelation cocktail is reading. As I get older I have this horrendous habit of seeing reading not as a necessity, a productive activity which spurs on my mind and endeavours through enjoyment and enlightenment, but a time consuming activity which yields less than more important activities like paying bills, doing laundry, overworking myself, looking at facebook, and speed-watching TV. Erroneous and ludicrous a concept as that is, it's a trap I find myself in more and more these past few years. Then I pick up a book and invest myself in reading it and I realize once again how insane I've been for ever seeing reading as a chore, or worse, an utterly unproductive activity.
This particular trip I chose the first in a series of novels on Plantagenet England and Wales, Here Be Dragons. An historical and imaginative novel, it chronicles the story of kings Richard and his brother John, their kin, and the parallel stories of Llewellyn Fawr and his kin -- centering primarily around Llewellyn's story and his marriage to John's illegitimate daughter. The story and characters fed into sections of my mind and emotions I hadn't allowed myself access to in a long time, and as a result, in combination with all other factors, caused me to stumble headlong into my newest revelation.
It's comforting and terrifying at this juncture to realize myself still capable of discovering new aspects of myself and the world around me. Even more than that, it's inspiring.