Three easy steps to having an artificial epiphany
We can’t all be philosophers and in this day and age, religious experiences are few and far between, sadly. So what do you do when you need to feel something meaningful, but don’t want to put in the time and effort, or partake of a possibly illegal psychochemical substance? I’m glad you asked, because all it takes is three easy steps to be able to achieve an artificial epiphany that can last a lifetime.
1: Stay up longer than your normal circadian rhythm dictates.
This is very important, and by doing this, you can probably manage to get one on your own, assuming you stay up for long enough. It’s really just a (relatively) harmless way to upset your natural brain chemistry and leave you susceptible to “revelations”. Also, totally legal, which is another thing to keep in mind.
But what if you only have a day or two and don’t want to risk being less than stellar at school, your job, or life in general?
2: Make yourself incredibly physically tired.
Again, this is another natural and somewhat healthy way to go about the whole thing, and again, it can do funny things to you physiologically making it easier for you to interpret the mundane in exciting new ways. I know of a fellow who ran a one hundred mile ultramarathon (which caused him to stay up for over 24 hours straight), and when he started driving home, he saw beings crawling through the trees on the side of the road who resembled the character Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies. He subsequently pulled over and got some sleep, but if he’d been a little more open to revelations, he might have taken it to mean he was seeing a parallel dimension of the universe that existed alongside ours inhabited by such creatures.
However, he did follow step three which is…
3: Stay away from other people.
This is tough to stress, but it’s very important. If you are around other human beings and especially if you’re able to have a conversation with them, you can have a more or less objective view on the situation. This is very bad if you want an artificial epiphany because of course if you can ask someone whether something is real or not, the ability to fool yourself into thinking you’ve seen something truly significant disappears.
All three conditions were met several weeks ago. I had stayed up all night working on material for a test the next day, and decided to go for a jog to kind of wake me up (since I was out of caffeine).
I started out down the road away from my college, a road which eventually turns into the highway. Although it wasn’t as important while I was near the city, the sun had not yet come up and it was actually completely dark. This is a small town, and when it stops, it stops very quickly, so it was not long before I was out beyond all lights except for those heavenly ones above me. Occasionally, there was a light belonging to a particular building on its own, but for the most part it was so dark I had to stay on the line that marked the road’s shoulder. Quite dangerous, especially since I was on the left shoulder, but there weren’t any cars coming toward me at that point.
After I had gone maybe two miles, running the whole way and uphill, mind you, I began to become very tired. The effect was that I began to take all of this in and experience it more acutely. I looked up, to my right and my left, and I saw stars, the moon, and the Milky Way. It was so dark and serene, and as I said, all I could see was the white line marking the shoulder.
Eventually, I came to a place where the straight road finally turns, or at least I got nearer to it. And I saw lights. No, I wasn’t that crazy, I didn’t think they were angels or flying saucers or anything else but the headlights they actually were, but it was visually impressive to me at that moment. The lights would come around the turn, reflecting off several signs at first, and I would move over onto the edge of the shoulder. Then the vehicle would pass by.
However, due to the circumstances of that morning, this was not a mundane occurence as it might otherwise have been. Instead, what happened was that the near darkness around me would gradually disappear until I was almost completely engulfed by light and I could see nothing else. Then the vehicle (usually an 18-wheeler and at that point in the road, going at least 65 miles per hour) would be past me, and a rush of air and speed would hit me loud as thunder. But I never actually saw one because as soon as the lights were behind me, I was in complete and total darkness, pitch black and silent.
This happened several times, and each time I began to feel like I was getting a glimpse at something terribly important. Something to do with the true nature of the universe, or reality, or relative values. Something that was there, but just out of reach.
As I got to the bend in the road, I started to realize that trucks might take the curve a little too hard and cross onto the shoulder, possibly smacking my body and splattering my internal organs all over their grill. Plus, I was awfully tired. It was time to turn back.
When I turned around, I saw the city at the bottom of the hill, shining like a jewel, and I ran toward it, a steady beacon of truth and peace, the sun coming up over the hill to my back just as I reached the edge of town.
I went back to my room and showered, and I was almost shaking. It was there, it was there, it was there, if only I could get my hands on it. But it wasn’t, it was just an artificial epiphany.
Of course, I don’t suppose that little detail means it was any less true.