The “Aha” moment

Sierra used to draw in scribbles. She colored to see the colors, not to make shapes; more interested in the basic elements of creation, she had no regard for form or development or art.

And then, one day, she began drawing people.

There was no in between. It was as if everything clicked into place at once, the idea of a body, the idea of a face, the idea of arms and legs, all in relative agreement and, though most of her drawings look like Ralph Steadman-inspired Humpty Dumptys, they are, without a doubt, PEOPLE.

These are “aha moments,” the currency of learning, when a concept suddenly snaps to grid. As we get older, these dynamic leaps become less common. Learning becomes gradual and the massive gaps from knowing to not knowing are filled in by experience.

As a student teacher, aha moments drove me to continue. Teaching science to junior high kids is a non-stop parade of aha moments. But they’re not groundshaking – an aha moment in a kid is a helpful byproduct of teaching.

Now, my aha moments are less about concepts and more about shifts in perception and principle. I’ll never rediscover the carbon cycle, but I CAN discover something I’d once thought impossible, or come to a realization that goes against my personal conventional wisdom.

Really, they might as well be called “Holy shit, that makes total sense!” moments. Or “You mean that’s really a thing?” moments. I had it the first time I realized you could make a career out of caring about content on the Web. I had it the first time I understood how much more fulfilling a day in the yard with your kids can be if you just let go of the damned yardwork.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that we never stop having aha moments. God forbid you ever DO stop, you guys. It’ll just mean you’ve stopped trying to figure out the world.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 10th, 2010