We all know that moment. That unreal, almost existential moment where past, present, and future collide all at once, totally overwhelming your entire body, mind, and soul. You’re not really zoning out, and you’re not just caught up in whatever you are doing. It’s similar to that “whoa” moment you have every once in a while; but it’s much more than that. A simple “whoa” moment occurs when you discover that SPAM is short for “spiced ham” (whoa). But a “WHOA” moment – that moment when all you can do is ask yourself in exasperation, “What the hell am I doing!?” – is quite different and much more profound and influential in its outcome.
For example: Neil Armstrong had a “WHOA” moment when he first set foot on the moon. So did President Lincoln when he began to sign his name on the Emancipation Proclamation. When Felix Baumgartner took his first step out of his capsule 24 miles up in Earth’s atmosphere he also succumbed to this moment. So too did Martin Luther King Jr. when he first declared “I have a dream…,” along with Charles Darwin and Galileo as they challenged the accepted scientific notions of the time.
It is important to understand that during a “WHOA” moment you’re not, in any way, doubting yourself or perplexed as to why you have committed yourself to such an action. You are simply thunderstruck – completely amazed and at a loss of words – possessing only the ability to think about, but not actually articulate, the explicit phrase. Despite this moment of intense exhilaration, those that have experienced this moment knew exactly what they were doing. They were focused and ready to do something huge, drawing on their experiences from the past and emotions of the present to ultimately create their own future in which they, everyone around them, and the entire world would be altered in some way. I guess you could say they were making a difference, but that, quite honestly, is an understatement. They were accomplishing something never accomplished before, something that potentially changed the world and the way in which it was perceived by everyone else. In all the examples stated above and those throughout history, insouciance was non-evident and a will to change the world was embraced.
Whether it be freeing the slaves in the U.S, disputing accepted scientific views, or exploring the unknown expanses of our planet it is crucially important to understand that these prominent historical figures would not have achieved greatness if they hadn’t challenged themselves. “Whoa” moments are commonplace, but “WHOA” moments are reserved for the select few, a special breed of human being. So what does that say about us, today?
We all want to be someone, a human being that has the ability to alter social norms and the conventional way of thinking. We all desire to have our “WHOA” moment and we surely have the potential to create one for ourselves. These special moments don’t appear out of thin air though – they need to be created by seizing new opportunities, defying fear and challenging accepted ideologies, and embracing uncomfortable situations, thus asking ourselves that all too familiar question.
So, what the hell are we doing?