Ever Had a False Epiphany?

One morning last year I looked at my calendar and was quite surprised by something I saw.


Eh? I’ve scheduled in an epiphany?

I should note at this point that I know all about epiphanies, because I had one when I was 25 years old. It was the thing that made me jettison my career in IT for something far more frustrating with worse pay.

And one thing I learnt was this… you don’t schedule an epiphany. THAT’S NOT HOW THEY WORK.

Then it clicked.

As you almost certainly worked out quicker than I did, my calendar had been populated with ‘Epiphany’ automatically. This is because Google reads my all emails and let’s me know when I’m due to have another one. It’s also because January 6 is the Christian festival of Epiphany, and even though I’m not religious, that somehow ended up in there.

Let’s just blame it on morning brain, shall we? Especially as that will also help explain why I did exactly the same thing the very next day.

It’s not the first time I’ve done this. Some years ago, I got up in the middle of the night and was in a semi-wakeful daze when I spotted the following message on my desk.

What the hell’s that supposed to mean?

Why was I calling myself a chicken? I can be self-deprecating at times – that’s just the British way – but I’m not one to leave abusive messages for myself.

Then it clicked – I was reminding myself to get the chicken out of the freezer. I picked up a pen and made a small addition, so as not to make the same mistake again.

I got up again later, in a similarly befuddled state.

Chicken out? Eh?! I don’t chicken out of anything! Or if I do then at the very least I pretend it’s some kind of tactical withdrawal.

Then it clicked – again! – the cogs in my mind grinding so loudly that I’m surprised they didn’t wake up my neighbours.

I made one final alteration, this time going all out so I couldn’t misinterpret it.

No, I didn’t get it wrong the next time. (Mind you, I’ve no idea if I actually got the chicken out the freezer, either).

In a way this was a genuine epiphany, as I now always double-check my notes to make sure I won’t be unintentionally trolling myself when I read them back later in a confused state.

And as a bonus, I’ll also never forget what day Epiphany falls on.

Have you ever had a light-bulb moment? How about a broken light-bulb moment? What’s the most accidentally trolling note you’ve ever written to yourself?


  1. Marilyn

    Oh that made me laugh. I actually was going to say yes I’ve had two but then realised you didn’t write episiotomy…I always write notes to myself which are fully comprehensible at the time but when I next see them they have me completely and utterly bemused. That is now my new year’s resolution to take the chicken out of the freezer. Oh no, I mean to write complete notes to myself. So thank you very much -it could be life changing !

    • Neil

      Thanks Marilyn 🙂 I may go the other way and start leaving deliberately vague notes to myself, perhaps even ones that never had any meaning in the first place. Who wouldn’t want to be greeted in a state of early morning befuddlement by a note that says “Harpsichord?”

  2. David Gilliam

    I can definitely relate to both your Epiphany and “efficient” notes written in a state of stupor. There is a kind of poetry to both don’t you think?
    By the way, I’m currently benefitting from an earlier work of yours, I’m in Villavicencio (well Apiay actually) and delighting in the sights, scents and sounds of Colombia.
    Wishing you delightful and safe travels! And, of course, plenty content for your future literary endeavors.

    • Neil

      Thanks David! Yes there probably is a poetry to it, although maybe less so the mental swearing I’m doing as I’m trying to work out what the heck I was trying to tell myself. Glad to hear you’re enjoying Colombia, especially that underexplored part of the country. Hope you get a chance to see some joropo in full swing!

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