Generally, people have two different opinions about the way they progress in life; one is that people have their life progress because of something called an epiphany. Even though an epiphany is not the only thing that can make someone develop, it definitely has a great influence to someone’s life. An epiphany is an unforgettable experience and it is people’s turning point in life. If the epiphany did not occur, people would not experience something meaningful that could made them decided to change, a change that usually is a positive change that lead into better life. If they did not change, their life would not progress because they would be the same person as they were before. Therefore, it is not possible to progress without experiencing an epiphany.
One example of people who experienced an epiphany and progressed because of it is Michael T. Kaufman. He is the former writer of the “About New York” column for the New York Times. In 1992 he wrote an essay in the New York Times that exposed his “prejudice and stupidity...[His] own” (Kaufman 140). In that interesting essay, he told a story about him and his childhood friend named Hector Elizondo. After being best friends for a year, Kaufman and Hector have not met each other because Kaufman family moved to another place. They finally met again when they both went to the same junior high school, in a very different condition, Kaufman was in a special class, a class for students whose intelligent are considerably high and Hector was in a regular class. Then, he started to think that he has higher status than Hector because of his higher intelligent. Long story short, they finished their education and still did not have the same relationship they used to have when they were young. They sometimes saw each other on their way home, where Kaufman was in a train and he saw Hector in the car. Kaufman thought that Hector was a longshoreman because of Hector’s appearance, which he described as “wearing a knitted watch cap” (Kaufman 142). Kaufman finally found out that Hector was a Broadway actor when he read an article in a drama section of a newspaper. The moment when he read the article was his epiphany; it is the moment where he learned his lesson and changed his life. Kaufman would not realize that he had this prejudice and fell into a stereotyping attitude if he did not have this experience. As Kaufman wrote that “[He has] blushed for [his] assumptions” (Kaufman 142), he really learned from his mistake. The experience made Kaufman thinks deeper about his environment which conditioned him to put himself in a higher status than his friend, Hector. Kaufman learned that he needs to shift his mind and being aware about the possibility that he might prejudice someone through their appearance. Eventually, Kaufman has developed into a better person, a person who does not stereotype others. If Kaufman had not had this epiphany, he would still become a person who stereotypes others. Thus, Kaufman’s life progressed.
Another example comes from a freelance writer named James Lincoln Collier. In 1986, Collier told readers about one lesson he learned after he experienced his epiphany. One of Collier’s sentence in the essay, “If the highly honored Duke Ellington, who had appeared on the bandstand some 10,000 times over 30 years, had anxiety attacks, who was I to think I could avoid them?” (Collier 82) illustrate his epiphany. It reveals Collier’s new paradigm that he could not avoid anxiety and had to face it so he can be success in life. Before he interviewed Duke Ellington and found out that the great composer also had anxiety attacks, Collier had experienced some regrets in his life; he did not take some good opportunities offered to him and focused more in the difficulties that might happen if he took the chances so that he finally let the opportunities went. His anxiety overcame him, and he ended up into regret. When he finally saw his idol, the great composer, Duke Ellington, still feels nervous before performs on a stage, his eyes were opened. He realized that it is normal and human for people to be anxious, but it is how people deal with the anxiety which makes them improved. Collier wrote one of his rules that, “you’ll never eliminate anxiety by avoiding the things that caused it” (Collier 82). It is a clear statement that shows he had learned his lesson. If Collier had not experienced this epiphany, he would not develop this rule, and maybe he would not take any good opportunity that come to him later because of his anxiety. Fortunately, he experienced an epiphany and become a person who has different perspective about anxiety. Thus, Collier’s life progressed.
Next story is about me. In 2005 I had a job as a vice principal of a kindergarten. At that time, the kindergarten was in an enrollment period and the principal appointed me as a treasurer; I need to keep all admission and enrolling funds that new parents paid to school before I could go to the bank and deposit it. It was a lot of money, around ten times of my salary. Because it was Saturday, I could not go to the bank and deposit it. I was also afraid about the safety of the money if I brought it home, especially because I took public transportation. I thought that no one would know that I kept a lot of money in my office, which is actually a very naive though, so I put the money in a brown envelope and left it in a drawer under a pile of files on my office desk, unlocked because the drawer had no key. When I came to the office on Monday and found that the money was gone, I was shocked. I did not expect that it will happen. I thought that I had locked the office door, no one know I kept the money there, and the money would be safe. I thought that I did no mistake; I had not had my epiphany yet. The epiphany came through my principal who said a very simple yet deep meaning sentence, “Prevention is a must”. Those four words, seventeen letters, said by someone powerful, the principal, just went straight to my deepest heart; I should not be so naive and should be more careful. I should have found another drawer with a key. I should really consider the risk of keeping a lot of money in an unlocked drawer. I made a huge mistake. The mistake had cause a lot of damage in my life, financially; but I proudly say that I survived. I learned my lesson, and I survived. It is clear that I would not be what I am now if I did not experience that epiphany. I become more careful and be wary especially if it about money; my life progressed.
Michael T. Kaufman, James Lincoln Collier, and I had some similarities; we made mistakes, we had an epiphany, we learned from it, and we progressed after we got the epiphany. Kaufman become a person who has more awareness about prejudice, Collier become a person who has less anxiety and takes more opportunity, and I become a person with more vigilance. Those three stories above confirm that an epiphany will makes people develop, and people cannot progress if they don’t experience an epiphany.
Submitted for Skyline College ESOL 400 writing assignment #2