I have no real understanding of what eureka means. Sure, it expresses a deep moment of insight seemingly inspired by nothingness. We all have these moments and try as we might to explain them; it is very difficult if not impossible. Regardless, we can define what they are but not how they work or what brings them forth into the depths of our minds. I was given such a moment the day I decided to teach – a regular day with a regular ending. However, the gap between beginning and end is filled with subconscious drama and melodramatic occurrences; the likes of which are rare even for eureka.
In the final days of my senior English class in high school, I found myself unwilling to engage consciously in class discussion. It was a violently uncomfortable day, as the climate was over zealously awaiting the summer heat. Even more distracting than the humidity and lack of air conditioning, it was Friday – which has always been a gifted distraction from academic subjects. While awaiting the weekend one finds themselves more interested in the clock than they do the class discussion. I was no different, and spent the beginning of class fixated upon the device situated above us on the wall. It was, however, very unfavorable that day and moved its hands extraordinarily slow, so I decided to avoid the treacherous gadget. Without time to divert my attention from the undying heat I had to look elsewhere for a distraction.
A bead of sweat ran down the face of the student sitting next to me; even body fluids wanted to leave the brutal inferno that was our classroom. There was a brief moment when I glanced out the window in front of me. As I gazed across the green fields that surrounded the school I suddenly became very envious of Bambi. The thought of him prancing freely in a children’s movie while I burned alive in a classroom was sickening to me. Quickly I turned away from the window, which had depressed me more than it alleviated my frustration in finding a distraction. Since I was unsuccessful in my quest to be distracted from class, I decided to do the opposite of my current endeavor: pay attention to the teacher.
As I glanced at her I noticed that everyone was getting out their books. Being the dutiful student that I am, I joined in the festivity. We began recording notes that the teacher wrote on the board relating to the novel we were reading in class. On an ordinary day this would have been a natural and enjoyable way to spend class. However, the weather and prospect of a weekend plague even the most enigmatic prodigies. A typical student such as me does not stand a chance in such an environment. I was unsuccessful in finding a distraction from the physical world, so I decided to succumb to the subconscious.
The unscripted thoughts of conscious dreaming produce many favorable distractions and illustrate our lives with creativity we had no prior knowledge of possessing. As my teacher began to write additional notes, the most curious event unfolded before my eyes. I transformed the image of my teacher into the image of myself writing notes on the board. Her shape and outfit shifted color and structure to blend into the likeness of myself. From a brief moment of insight I witnessed the complete metamorphosis of my teacher as she became the phantom of me. A student asked a question and as the teacher answered I visualized myself turning around from the board and giving the student the same answer. When she introduced a new concept to the discussion I saw my silhouette dance across the shadows of her face, mimicking every word she produced. In that moment our actions became interchangeable and we proceeded to give the lesson in unison, as if the phantom of my subconscious danced with her through a spectral class with illusions and ghosts for students. The sterile white classroom, once simple and generic, transformed into a poltergeist hall of spectral music and divine insight. In that moment I was more inspired than I had ever been before. I cannot help but succumb to the strength of ideas inspired by eureka.
As the ghosts faded and music diminished I returned to reality. My brief distraction had delivered me closer to the final minutes of class, but there was still time enough to keep me locked in the room. I was not bothered anymore by the heat or prospect of the weekend, though. My thoughts returned again to the phantom dance at the front of the class. From that simple illusion I became inspired to teach. From that seed of inspiration grew the desire to educate until finally there was no doubt that was what I wanted to do with my life. Though the clock would remain ticking in that room, time no longer applied to me. Faintly, it will catalogue the minutes and seconds until it reaches the desired hour. However, it too bore witness to the masquerade festival of shadows and, like me, it will remember that flash of insight that can only be summed in one word: eureka.