As a journalist, I seek out people who also focus on such experiences: philosophers, artists, scientists, musicians, comedians and poets are my usual go-tos. But, it doesn't matter if they are well-known celebrities, or the people in my everyday life. Bits of wisdom can be found everywhere.
This is something I realized as time went on. When talking to people about their "Aha!" moments, I wasn't documenting esoteric, special knowledge. Epiphanies are usually the results of little choices people make and they gain importance in the light of what might seem like mundane, everyday experiences.
Take, for instance, Steve Martin. He's a movie-star thanks to box-office hits like “The Jerk,” “Roxanne,” “L.A. Story” and “Father of the Bride.” He’s also a successful playwright (“Picasso at the Lapin Agile”), author (“Born Standing Up”) and a legendary standup comedian. Comedy Central chose him as number six in its ranking of the “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.”
He got right to the point when I asked him, "Is there anything you can’t do?"
“Well, I can’t draw. I have no artistic ability at all,” Martin said. “I can’t really sing, I can sort of fake it. I’m actually not a very good dancer. I can sort of learn it for the moment, you know, and then it leaves me. I almost never dance privately. I think I’m terrible.”
And yet many would still assume that he is cut from a different cloth than the rest of us, that his Hollywood life comes from the deck being stacked in his favor, somehow. This theory holds no water.
“I don’t think I have any gifts. I just get an idea in my head and can’t get it out, and just do it,” Martin said.
And then he assured me, "that’s really all it takes.”
Too often people see others as better than themselves. Truth is, rock stars, poets, actors, we are all just making choices. I am grateful for how far that realization has taken me. It's one of my favorite nuggets of wisdom. You can reach almost anything from wherever you are.