Imagine for a moment that the year is 2000 B.C. and you’re a fisherman living along the coast of what is now Southern Europe. Like any other morning, you’re fishing when suddenly a powerful burst of energy enters your body. It creates a tingling sensation in your fingertips, a flutter in your heart and warmth in your belly. You know it’s not anxiety or a heart attack because it feels comforting and fulfilling.
You put your fishing pole down and sit at the water’s edge. You reach down and splash a handful of cool water up onto your face. It is here, in this quiet moment, that you have an epiphany. And while you are unable to explain how or why this epiphany is coming to you now – you haven’t done anything out of the ordinary to receive it – its message is crystal clear:
The Earth is not flat. The Earth is a sphere. You can visualize it revolving around the sun in a predictable orbital pattern. These visualizations also reveal that the Earth is part of a solar system of eight planets separate from other stars in the night’s sky and that these other stars follow similar predictable patterns of movement. There is a whole uncharted universe out there that nobody else is aware of.
Once the magnitude of your epiphany settles in your mind, you begin to sweat from nervousness. Because while the small village you live in is peaceful, there is little tolerance for outlandish ideas and theories like the ones that just rattled your brain. If you were to tell others about them, the nobles and town leaders might interpret it as a direct threat to the religious and cultural stability of the community, and the rest of the villagers would likely think you’re insane. You could be exiled.
You decide that you must handle your business as usual and leave the futuristic visions and epiphanies to the witch doctors and nomads who dwell in the forests on the outskirts of civilization. These people have already decided that the world they grew up in doesn’t hold the answers they are looking for. They are the ones who should convey these outlandish ideas to the world. Because they have nothing to lose. At least not as much as you do.
So you don’t tell a soul about your epiphany. Days roll into weeks. Weeks roll into months. And you imagine, each day, that you are better off for having kept it a secret. But you are also aware that keeping this secret is eating away at you from the inside out. You have distanced yourself from people and have been sleeping less and less. Your mind won’t stop stirring.
Words of Wisdom
One night, after hours of stirring, you finally fall asleep and begin to dream. You dream that you’re sitting at round table in a dimly lit room. There is a man sitting across the table from you. You can barely make out his face, but you can see his hair is peppered with silver and his skin is worn. He seems old and wise. And it feels like he can see right through to your soul. But you also feel comforted because there is nothing to hide from him. He already knows what you know.
“Do you know why you’re sitting here with me?” he asks in a low, soothing voice.
“I don’t know,” you reply. “I guess I’m here because I have no one else I can talk to.”
He smiles and says, “You are here because you have something to say. Something you know that is of immense importance – something that will change the world when you finally say it. But you are afraid to say it because you don’t think people are ready to hear it.”
You sit in silence with him for a moment. Just staring into his eyes. You feel an energy emanating from his heart and gently soothing yours. Easing it of tension. Letting it know that it can beat loudly and proudly at any pace it wants to without concern. Because it’s safe here – a sanctuary devoid of judgment. And all of the fear inside you slowly subsides.
You take a deep breath and say, “I am here because I had an epiphany in which I saw, clearly, that the earth is not flat. It is a sphere that revolves around the sun as part of an eight planet solar system. And there are other stars out there too, perhaps in other solar systems in what is likely a vast, uncharted universe.”
You pause for a moment, take two more deep breaths and continue, “I don’t know where this epiphany came from or why it came to me when it did. But I’m certain that it’s accurate. And I’m certain, also, that the people of this world aren’t ready for it. I have already been punished for having this epiphany – for simply knowing what I know. And I don’t want to be punished once more for conveying what I know to others.”
He smiles again. And you feel, as he smiles, more comforted than you have since before you had your epiphany. “In all walks of life, you will never know when the world is ready,” he says. “You will only know when you are ready. And you will know when you are simply because you will take action and do something about it. And after you do something, you will know when there is more to do, because you will do more.”
His words of wisdom are so clear, so simple. But the real world, you recall, is far more twisted and convoluted. In the real world, there are cultures and customs that have been around for generations that must be dealt with.
“The most important thing to remember,” he continues, “is that while it may feel like you are at the mercy of the world, you are not. Because the world is merely a reflection of what’s inside you – your thoughts. So what feels like an entire world that isn’t ready, isn’t really a world at all. It’s just you. And when you change, you will notice that the world outside has changed too.”
Your eyes slowly open. You sit up in bed and silently meditate over your dream. After a few moments, you stand up and walk out the front door of your cabin to get some fresh air. And as you stand there watching the sun rise over the village, you notice something is different. The entire village seems brighter and more alive than you remember. Has the village changed? Have the people changed? Or is it just you? You aren’t sure.
What you are sure of is that you have fish to catch today. And that you have something important to say. And while you don’t know yet how you will say it, you are gradually growing more and more confident that you will know soon. And by the time you realize you know, you will have already begun to say what you need to say.
And the world around you will have already begun to change.
Because you have changed.
Recommended reading for those who liked this post:
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World
Photo by: Jony Cunha