You know the feeling of having a word at the tip of your tongue? You know it’s there, you know that you know it, you know that as soon as you hear it you would recognize it. Yet it sits there, like a cat with its hind legs coiled, ready to spring up, but it doesn’t move.
There are thoughts like that too. The collation of thoughts, experiences, and conversations that are converging on a single realization, a eureka moment. But it sits there waiting. It’s waiting for you to organize these disparate elements, put them together in an order that gives them meaning, causes and effects, and clarity, a result that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Along with this anxiety is the unrelenting feeling that these near-realizations are fleeting. A sense that if I don’t put the pieces of the puzzle together now, the pieces will flow through me and get lost.
Yet I understand that this is part of the process. The journey is the reward, it’s the place of learning where the combination of the disparate pieces requires analysis and contemplation. The analysis is what gives the final realization its strength and resilience. It’s what gives me the ability to adapt the realization to various context into which it may not immediately seem applicable.
When the pieces do come in together at the end, it creates an awakening of sorts. The ability to look outside my physical body and look back at my past and my surroundings in a new light. It’s like unplugging from the matrix. It’s a new piece of insight through which subsequent thoughts and experiences will be filtered, and through which mental models will be developed. I think this is what people call intuition, or wisdom.
And so, I sit here, thinking about how heroes helping people who fell into the subway tracks fit in with first-generation immigrants and cognitive inertia. I know they’re connected, I can tell you why they’re connected in my head, I just haven’t combined these thoughts and pieces into a coherent thesis. But it’s there, at the tip of my brain, waiting for me to realize something I haven’t realized yet.