My son and I were exchanging Wordle scores this morning as we do every day when I experienced one of those aha moments.
It’s amazing how often we track. On occasion, he gets the word in two or three guesses and it takes me five or six or vice versa. But usually, we’re on target. The fun part is the reaching out to him and the little bits of conversation we exchange in the process.
Today’s word (I won’t reveal what it was) was easy once you got it. This time of year, and with temperatures soaring, it wasn’t the first word that came to mind, which is why it took me five tries to figure it out.
I texted my answer to my son with the comment, “Some days when you finally get it, you think gosh that was easy how come I didn’t get it sooner? It’s kind of a metaphor for life, isn’t it?”
It also took him five tries to get the wordle and his response to me was: “Totally a metaphor for life.” To which I responded with a laughing emoji. Funny but true.
I think about those aha moments that stick with you as part of the joy of living. Once you get it, everything seems to go better. Like realizing that you can’t ever talk politics with family members whose point of view is totally different from yours. After that epiphany, it’s all milk and honey.
The second thing that happened this morning that reinforced the value of the aha moment was the weekly boiling of eggs. It was probably 20 years ago that I learned the art of the egg boiling from Gethin Thomas, who at the time was the chef at Cummins Inc. where I worked.
Gethin and his crew prepared delicious meals for the company’s big customers or other dignitaries visiting the Cummins headquarters in Columbus, Indiana. If I was working late, which happened quite a bit, he would bring me leftovers. Fine dining on a desk full of draft press releases.
One evening as he was dropping off a perfectly plated dish, we ended up discussing eggs and those ugly green rims that form during the cooking process.
“Why would you want to serve your family something that looked like that when doing it right will make it so much better?” he asked.
Not waiting for my answer, he proceeded to tell me how to cook the perfect boiled egg. Boil the water, letting the eggs sit out to get closer to room temperature. Stick the eggs in the boiling water for 12 minutes; no longer. When the time is up, pour out the hot water and shock them with ice cubes and cold water in the pot.
The last time I saw a green rim was when my neighbor, who was leaving town for the summer, brought me three boiled eggs she had left over. I’m trying to figure out how to tactfully tell her the Gethin Thomas story when she returns.
Another of my favorite aha moments came during the Tom Hanks movie, Bridge of Spies. It’s a 2015 story, based on fact, about the release of Frances Gary Powers – a convicted CIA pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 – in exchange for Rudolf Abel, a convicted Soviet KGB spy held by the United States.
During the exchange process, the Hanks character says to the Soviet spy, “Are you worried about what will happen to you?” The spy, a likeable character in the movie, says to Hanks: “Will worrying change the outcome?” Or something to that effect.
Sitting in the darkened movie theater and watching that scene had an impact on me. The spy was right. Worrying never changes the outcome. Action might but sitting around and stewing certainly won’t. I’ve tried to adopt that as my mantra: if I can’t change it, I won’t worry about it. Sometimes that even works. Aha.