An epiphany from the bottom of a bottle of wine

Reckonings column by Della Mallette, Oct. 28 Grand Forks Gazette

I had an epiphany the other night. I wish I could say it was about something important—that I’d discovered the true meaning of life, that I know what my role is in this world, that I understand how to achieve inner peace. No. Before I admit what my silly sudden realization was, let me explain.

I’ve had a cold the last week, all of us at home have gotten it at the same time. That’s handy because misery does love company. I bought a large container of Vick’s, brought up a six pack of Kleenex from the pantry shelf and plugged in the vaporizer. We’re on our second bottle of Nyquil.

This column wasn’t meant to be an advertisement but I can’t resist saying how good a thick layer of goopy Vicks Vaporub feels.  And NyQuil will put you to sleep for some three to four hours before a fit of coughing wakes you up.

But add a few cold and sinus pills to get you through the work day, and it all adds up to some very vivid, colourful dreams about a whole lot of nothing.

Monday night I thought I’d try to get a night’s sleep in a more traditional way: I took an extra-strength Advil and drank a bottle—just a piccolo bottle!—of Henkell Trokken sparkling wine.

I’m obviously not much of a drinker; sure I went to sleep! And I was plagued by dreams nonetheless.

Lo and behold comes this epiphany that woke me up sometime around midnight: that a fire extinguisher is just like skeet shooting in almost all respects. Pull! Aim! Squeeze the trigger! See!? The only difference is that in skeet shooting you aim for the sky, and if you’re wielding a fire extinguisher, aim for the base of the flames.

In all seriousness (although my story is true!), epiphany is a beautiful word. It rolls off the tongue so eloquently (another sweet word).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary tells us epiphany is a Christian festival held on Jan. 6 held in honour of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles; or, in the Eastern Church, in commemoration of the baptism of Christ.

The dictionary also describes epiphany as a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

Wikipedia (because we all trust Wikipedia, right?) says an epiphany (from the ancient Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is an experience of sudden and striking realization.

Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.

And from the Urban Dictionary: when you’re really loopy and realize something.

Whatever definition you use, I reckon to have an epiphany is a good thing. If your definition is as a festival to commemorate the coming of the Magi, then that must be a deeply moving moment in your life; if it’s that it allows you to come to a realization about a problem or situation that can be understood from a new and deeper perspective, that’s important too.

I used a very silly example of likening a fire extinguisher to skeet shooting to start a conversation about epiphanies, but hopefully, as it has me, it has you thinking about your own experiences, stories, thoughts—your own epiphanies. Big or small, these moments of enlightened perception can provide us with more understanding of ourselves and others, more empathy, more compassion. They could change your outlook on yourself, and other people in your life.

Spending a few moments in reflection, in meditation, in quiet contemplation can only be a good thing.