An enlightening conversation between Annie at the age of 25 and Annie 35 years later
Annie of 1980: Why come with you? Where are we going, Annie of my future? By the way, may I call you “Annie O”—you know, for Annie Older?
Annie O: If I was still in your mind I may have taken offence at “older”, but sure, that works. The “O” makes me think “Oh!” A constant state of exclamation! It’s good. May I call you “Annie Y”? It fits two ways: Annie Younger and Annie the inquirer.
Annie Y: I like it. So, where are we headed that’s going to make me understand that enigmatic Zen saying about enlightenment? You know: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Annie O: Well. Actually, into your life experiences, past, present and future. Rather like Ebenezer Scrooge following the three ghosts. I know that movie strongly resonates with you. Because you’re an “Aha” person.
Annie Y: An Aha person?
Annie O: A person who searches for Aha moments everywhere. Aha moments are sparks of enlightenment. You know how Scrooge has his brilliant “Aha” on Christmas morning, when he becomes enlightened, dances around giddily and proclaims: I’m as light as a feather. I’m as happy as an angel. You cried along with Dad watching that scene. I’ll never forget that special moment.
Annie Y: Yeah, that wasn’t long before Dad died, maybe five years ago when I was around 20. I still feel that shared moment poignantly. So glad you haven’t forgotten it.
Annie O: I won’t—its part of who I’ve become. And you know how you love the Wizard of Oz. That’s an Aha story too. The Aha comes when the characters see behind the curtain and realize there is no great wizard to give them what they’re seeking, that what they want is already within them. And another one is one of your favourite movies ever—The Miracle Worker.
Annie Y: Yes! The story of Helen Keller—I love it! It has a really powerful Aha, as you call it. I was only seven when that came out in 1962, so I think I must have seen it a few years later for it to have made such an indelible impression on me. Do you still recall the water pump scene when you can see understanding suddenly coming to Helen’s deaf, dumb and blind mind? When she grasps it that the letters “w-a-t-e-r”, being signed over and over again onto the palm of her hand by her teacher, actually form the word representation for what is flowing over her other hand out of the pump. That moment changed her life forever because she could now communicate with others.
Annie O: Oh yes. I just watched it again not too long ago, and the emotional intensity of it still makes me cry. To my mind, that’s as apt of a depiction of enlightenment as I’ve ever come across. The dark, silent, lonely world Helen had miserably existed in up to that point in her young life was suddenly infused with the joy of discovery, connectivity and potentiality. And indeed, she went on to become a famous author, lecturer and political activist.
Annie Y: Okay, I understand now about Aha moments igniting enlightenment. Enlightenment, which I take to mean the increasing of awareness and understanding, seems to come in a brilliant flash. Did that flash happen to you, or should I say, does it happen to me?