Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious
What do you call them?
Friends and readers! New content below that might resonate with you—I hope it does. We all have those moments when a lightning bolt of information hits us that is so obvious, you’re wondering how you didn’t already know it. Maybe you did.
Anyway—enjoy my take on BGOs. Thank for reading and commenting it helps me know that I’m on track. Hope you have a beautiful Fall weekend wherever and however you choose to spend it. I’m saddling up the Indian.
Holy shit moments? Epiphany? Things that make you go ‘Hmm.’ Bolt of inspiration?
For me, it’s difficult to not feel a little dense at the exact moment I’m struck with this bolt. It’s as if the Universe is saying to me, “you probably ought to know this already, but I’m glad you do now.” Sometimes it feels almost like a Déjà vu moment, where I’ve already learned this thing and forgotten it and learned it again and forgotten it and here it is again to be learned anew. Homer Simpson made famous the “Doh” aspect of those moments.
Creative guru Rick Rubin says in his amazing book “The Creative Act” that “there’s a time for certain ideas to arrive, and they find a way to express themselves through us.”
So, is a BGO just the manifestation of an idea passing through me? When I think of it in those terms it changes the nature of the idea. These flashes are personal after all, aren’t they? When a BGO arrives—call it an epiphany if that suits you better—it arrives explosively. Rubin refers to the moment as a lightning bolt. I’ve always called it a BGO long before I ever read the barefooted music wizard’s riff on creativity.
In the last year or two, I’ve stepped off the shore away from the safety of my business career and am wading into the relatively unexplored waters of the creative process. I find myself chest deep where the cold unknown of it is truly touching my heart. I’ve always had creative impulses and have exercised those muscles throughout my business career—but always as a flex to get to a desired outcome. A creative solution to a current problem. The getting from point A to point B. Creative muscles applied to settle a personnel decision, or advance a customer stuck in the sales funnel, or to produce/direct a piece of content to close out a television show that needed an ending.
Never—until recently—have I intentionally said NO to business opportunities as they arise in order to stay focused on the task at hand—becoming a better writer and sharing my recovery experiences with others—with no expectation of outcome or compensation.
The BGOs come fast and furious now, but sometimes I’m not sure how to interpret them or place them in context.
“I’m really enjoying this. Who knew?”
“People like to hear what I have to say. Who knew?”
“This writing thing deepens my recovery as I surface these topics and share my thoughts and feelings out loud. Who knew?”
“I think my belief system might have changed a bit. Writing and publishing makes it real.”
Maybe I’m being hard on myself for assuming I should know these things. It wouldn’t be the first time—that I’m hard on myself. Doh. That’s why I’ve always like the acronym BGO. It’s merely a bright flash of something that either is obvious or should be obvious. You weren’t tuned in to it until just now, or you weren’t ready for it, or you are just getting an additional piece of a larger puzzle—yeah that one.
Rubin writes in his book about focusing “…less on the lightning bolt and more on the spaces surrounding it.” The arrival of the “bolt” requires perfect conditions and then dissipates quickly. He talks about how being an artist of any kind—someone who engages in a practice or creating something—requires a craftsman-like work ethic. Without the foundation of the work, any “bolt” of inspiration that may come will likely dissipate quickly and be unused. To his point, perhaps I ought to think of these moments more in terms of pure energy. What do I do with this burst? Capture it? Extend it? Leverage it? Fuck that word leverage—it’s so tied to my past and so laden with innuendo.
Back to paragraph one, sometimes it feels like I’m learning these things over and over again. Or maybe it’s just that the context has changed because of the newness and clearness of the lens I’m now gazing through. If the “time” isn’t right the first time I’m presented with the glimpse—if I’m not capable of translating or interpreting or even understanding it at that time—does it come back to me only when I am able to receive it? A little bit like love maybe?
As a person in long-term recovery, I’m accustomed to great change. I’m also comfortable with uncomfortable topics. Shit happens. Life comes at us. The solution is often hidden or simply not available. In the old days of running amuck I would often blow right through something without further thought. It didn’t register. My lens was murky. My response could be emotionally reactive, or I’d stuff my reaction and play the stoic. Today I live a more examined life. My reactions and responses are healthier, balanced and held lightly in the wisdom of knowing whether I can control the situation or not. My lens is clearer.
With the horrible news of the World over the last couple of weeks (what else is new?) I had a couple of moments where feelings of anger and frustration rose up quickly. “Humans. We suck.” At those moments—and that’s really all that life represents—is a collection of moments—I reach into my recovery toolbox. I take a few deep breaths, let the emotions rise and pass through me, and then begin to process what I’m feeling and why. I’ve written in past essays about the Hoʻoponopono prayer taught to me by my friend and coach. I also use the Serenity Prayer regularly. External World events are outside of my control. The only thing I can control is my reaction and response to those events.
Digging into these moments of blinding clarity—or sudden infusion of knowledge or empathy or pain—has served me well in the more practical areas of my life. In my business career, I was an effective problem solver and entrepreneur. The challenge back then always seemed to be in making the inspiration stay around for a while. That is—if I even recognized the moment as inspirational in the first place.
Now I’m spending much less time working for a living, and much more time intentionally developing my creative craft. When the BGO hits me—and I’m grateful to say that it has—I absorb it more softly There is naturally more space around it because I don’t have the underlying, palpable, debilitating urgency of work deadlines or investor pressure, or crushing self-doubt.
I’ve also been able to decode backwards—interpret—implement this process around some current business-related decision making. One of the important questions I’m currently sitting with is around work. I still get opportunities to apply my skills and expertise on a regular basis. Many of these opportunities are right in my wheelhouse. All of them are well compensated. They are not aligned with my intention to further exercise my creative muscles and develop as a writer. Throughout much of my life I’ve defined myself by the work I do. I’ve measured my self-worth by my income, my accomplishments, and my position. It served me well for a long time. If a man like me isn’t doing the work he knows how to do, is he less of a man? Of course not. My friend, writerreally unpacks some great writing on this topic frequently on his newsletter “Get Real-Man.”
Work is merely part of what we do—for some its less and for others its more. For some fortunate ones, the work is combined with the purpose and the meaning they find in their lives. Few are that lucky.
Here’s a BGO: I can change.