A xenophobic ideologue walked this Earth thousands of years ago. His name was Saul of Tarsus. For all the million passions permissible to man, he chose to persecute Christians with maddening desire. Rumour has it this biblical figure inspired James Cameron’s multiple award-winning titular character T-800 (The Terminator). While that’s an obvious lie, one moment of truth will 360 his life on the road to Damascus.
In that thrilling experience, Saul was blinded by a divine luminous light. Jesus calls out to him to repent of his ways. With that encounter, through the power of Christ, a man who had been a hate-filled villain became a love-filled hero called Paul. A complete turnaround. This was his moment of truth- his Damascus Moment.
Damascus Moment: A sudden event/process that leads to a complete turnaround in fortune.
A PHENOMENON IS BORN
The success story of Saul triggered a highly potent craze: a culture portrayed in several movies, books and advertisement that suggests complete change can happen quickly. And guess what, the world is hooked to this high. We are all thirsting for our Damascus Moment, and we want it now and real fast.
Take a look at how pop culture portrays the Damascus Moment:
THE MOVIE INDUSTRY: HOLLYWOOD
A geeky young lad from Queens on an exhibition fair gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider. He will develop a heightened sensitivity to perceived danger, incredible sense of humour, crawl and swing from rooftops, fight the big bad villain Thanos and give us one of the best emotionally charged moments in movie history. His name is…
We are bombarded every day with ridiculous sales pitches that tell us with little to absolute zero effort our lives can undergo a complete change. All you have to do is buy X or Y. There is always that wonder drug that promises to melt your rolling fat pad in three days. There is that guy on Tv without a medical license who claims to sculpt a surgically gorgeous peach of a booty. In a split second all body-type insecure women build wet dream bubbles of using their new booty as collateral for an iPhone XIII Pro Max.
Worst of all is the charlatan televangelist whose anointing oil can cure AIDS, find you a spouse no matter how shitty a person you are, make you filthy rich, and promises he can make God return all your missed calls over the years just by buying his holy water.
Shockingly, people believe this and want this with-no-big-effort-get-it-quick scheme.
WHEN THE DAMASCUS MOMENT GOES WRONG
- In 2019, billionaire diamond trader Ehud Arye Laniado, 65, who reportedly was suffering from schlong Napoleon complex decided a quick penile enlargement procedure was better than the notoriously little progress kegel exercise. He died from a heart attack after injecting an unknown substance into his penis.
- In May 2020, three Bolivian boys came up with the idea of letting a deadly Black Widow bite them in the belief it would turn them into Spider-Man. Following the bite, they were hospitalized after suffering near-fatal complications from the venom. Luckily they survived after a transfer to an urban hospital just in time. Three idiots!
Look not too far away from your life and you can find similar Damascus Moment gone bad stories. From the guy who sold his soul for occultic money, that girl who developed anorexia nervosa in a bid to lose weight quickly, the guy who lost a huge fortune after falling for a 100% profit scam. The list is endless.
What does proper change look like? Can change be quick and safe?
1. CAN BE INCREDIBLY SLOW
As much as we want a fast life, we must come to a compromise change can be freaking slow and could take an incredible amount of time. In our heads, we want to wake up filthy rich one day, have a ripped body, be like that guy with an aura of mesmerizing charm, or want to be like that superstar celeb. Unfortunately, this won’t happen overnight. Overnight success is pretty much a fairytale.
It took Morgan Freeman thirty-nine good years to land a major movie role in Hollywood. Admire him that much? Think about all those 39 years of insane grind for his Damascus Moment.
10 YEARS OF SILENCE:
John Hayes, a cognitive psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University started researching the lives of 76 successful composers (Mozart, Beethoven etc) by analyzing their works between 1685-1900. The central question that drove his work was, “how long after one becomes interested in music is it that one becomes world-class?”. His discovery?
Virtually every single “masterpiece” was written after year ten of the composer’s career. Not a single person produced incredible work without putting in a decade of practice first. Even a genius like Mozart had to work for at least ten years before he produced something that became popular. Professor Hayes began to refer to this period, which was filled with hard work and little recognition, as the “ten years of silence.”James Clear (10 Years of Silence: How Long It Took Mozart, Picasso and Kobe Bryant to Be Successful)
2. CAN BE PAINFUL
Following his encounter with Jesus, Saul of Tarsus became blind for three days. He lost touch with the world- a great deal of suffering and pain. That was the price he had to pay for the change. When you finally decide to change for the best, it will cost you a lot- friends, relationships, reputation and worse your personal sanity.
Friends and family subconsciously have a fixated idea of who you are. The very moment you decide to change, this will come as a threat to their perceived idea of who you are. Not many will accept you for the better person you are becoming. You will hear the cliche “you have changed”. This can scare the shit out of you and put you in the terrible dilemma of either accepting your past self or embracing painful change. Not many can choose the latter.
Imagine the backlash a villain like Paul suffered when he switched to becoming a disciple of Christ. Did people forget his past? No. Did he forget his past crimes? A big no. He took a step and that was all that mattered.
3. STARTS WITH THE LITTLE THINGS
“If you want to change the world, start with yourself“Mahatma Gandhi
Big change starts with little efforts accumulated over time. You don’t need to start really big. Great change is like a jig-saw puzzle. Start joining the little pieces together and soon a bigger picture turns out. Want to become a better student? How about learning to obey something as little as your alarm clock for starters?
We unconsciously sabotage ourselves by overlooking the little things and rather focus on the grander things. How about spending more time being awake working on your dreams than daydreaming all day? Such a little effort could be an incredible gamechanger in becoming better people. What little thing are you changing today?
4. CAN BE UNFORESEEN
Humans make plans to change for good, procrastinate till an elusive perfect time until life slaps us with the unforeseen. Change can come in an instant in the most uncomfortable devastating way. It has taken the death of a loved one to teach us the need to appreciate people while they are alive. It can take a health crisis to teach people to give a shit about what they eat, who and what they fuck.
The death of George Floyd was all it took to change the narrative on police brutality against coloured persons. His death has brought the world together in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. This could be the Damascus Moment we all have been waiting for. Who could have thought it would happen in a shitty pandemic year?
This is life, our Damascus Moment can be unpredictable and chaotic. But then, will you leave change to chance?
We are most frustrated when trying to change. Be it habits, attitude, prejudices etc. This frustration comes from expecting results too soon. While sudden change can be good, it sometimes comes as a shock to our being, and adjusting becomes a painful experience.
Little steps, bidding time, falling short, readjusting and trying again is the right way to our Damascus Moment. Guess what? This takes time and can be a painful journey! Worth it in the end.
Are you on the road to Damascus?
Don’t forget to share your thoughts, like this post, subscribe below and share. Cheers, DrC.