Discuss the meaning of this quote:  "If only there were a longer time between epiphany and epitaph." - David Glaser

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Glaser's quote brings out how there are times when, to quote Sophocles, "wisdom brings no profit to the wise."  The concept of an "epiphany" is a moment of extreme self- revelation.  It is not planned and not designed, but it "hits" the individual and usually transforms the person in changing the way they view themselves, the world, or both.  The idea in an epiphany is something that begins with "And that's when I realized..."  An epiphany is an intense moment of self understanding and acknowledgement.  An epitaph is what is written on a headstone when someone dies.  An epitaph is how that person will be remembered.  It is something that summarizes a life and is inscribed when the person is dead and little can be done to change what was done with their life.  The epitaph is meant to honor the passing of the individual.

Glaser's quote brings out the idea that the epiphanies that transform our lives, that allow us to change within them, happen too close to our deaths.  The experience of consciousness and being in the world helps to bring out these epiphanies towards the end of our lives, when the need for an epitaph is too close to us, definable with real and distinct features.  Glaser's quote suggests that our youth and middle age is consisting of living life, forming experiences, and making mistakes through this process.  The epiphanies that help to provide meaning happen towards the end of our lives, when we are in old age.  To this extent, the understanding and unlocking of the "secrets" to consciousness happen at a point where we are too old to fully revel in the benefit of epiphany- based knowledge for at this point, in Glaser's mind, we are moving close to the point where we will need an epitaph.  To this end, Glaser wishes for more time, more time to enjoy the epiphanies in our consciousness and more time to live out these moments of self- realization.

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