— Jonathan Carroll
In both movies and books we often see portrayed those moments of enlightenment when suddenly, miraculously, everything becomes clear to a character. They abruptly stop walking on a crowded street and standing there, stare off into the distance while people pass by. Or they lift their head from a book in the library as their jaw drops open in surprise. NOW they know what to do! Call them “light bulb moments” because if the scene were portrayed in a cartoon, we would see a light bulb suddenly click on above the character’s head, their eyes would widen, and they’d rush out of the picture to solve the problem that had been challenging them. Sort of like the inevitable scene in a Popeye cartoon right after our hero eats a can of spinach.
But what about the light bulb moments that are 100% wrong? All the inventors who had out of the blue epiphanies where everything became clear and they rushed off to invent something no one either wanted or bought? The left handed backscratcher. The dog self-walker. Or the moment in a famous battle where an important general thought “Now I understand! We’ve got to change strategy and attack *this* way.” Wrong. Everybody died.
Throughout life, all of us have moments where the solution to a problem that’s been dogging us suddenly reveals itself in a flash. The light bulb clicks on brightly above our heads. “Oh my God, that’s it! That’s exactly the way to resolve this.” Nope. “It” happens to be the very wrongest way to handle this and by following that new inspired line, we get into much more trouble. How about the many many many times in human history when peoples’ light bulb moments have been entirely wrong.