I had an epiphany!
I know that sounds like such a liturgical word that men wearing robes with dangling crosses share from a pulpit. No, I didn’t have the “appearance or manifestation of deity” kind of epiphany. I had the “sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple or commonplace experience,” kind. And ironically, I had it in a men’s room in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, right across the street from the United States Capitol!
Like most men, I have always done some of my best thinking in bathrooms, but this one surprised me. I had come to the nation’s capital with two hundred others to lobby for a specific act that will greatly impact childhood cancer research. Our first day was spent with a lobbyist who gave us several pointers on how to approach lawmakers. For a hayseed from Georgia, this whole thing was a little intimidating. Sure, I vote and I once met George HW Bush on his whistle-stop train tour – that’s about the extent of my political involvement. But the opportunity arose and I felt called to do it. So, there I was in DC wearing my Smiley for Kylie yellow jacket with appointments to meet both of my Senators and five Congressmen from my state.
Thinking about the history of this place and the halls of power within, I found myself extremely nervous and I don’t typically get nervous. But I was about to sit down with some of most powerful men and women in our country to tell them my story – little, insignificant me. I had cotton mouth and noticed a dubious amount of extra perspiration.
For just a second can we consider these bodily reactions to stress and get a little angry with God, please? I mean really! In its disturbed state, the mind is afraid of standing out, making a fool of itself, or whatever. So rather than pull it all together, it causes the body to pull much-needed moisture away from the mouth and allocates it to the armpits. Now the person lacks concentration, talks like a cartoon character, and stinks – making the whole situation worse! Yeah, um… Thanks God.
We Ubered over to the building and right as we pulled up, my coffee hit me. Once past security, I made a beeline for a restroom and that’s where it happened… my epiphany.
As the definition states, my epiphany was initiated by something both simple and commonplace in the men’s room. It wasn’t even visible, but do you know what I found? __it stinks. Can you believe it? Right there in the bathroom among the Washington elite, __it stinks!
I’ve been to some raunchy places in my life and smelled some nasty things. I’ve built doors for a pit latrine in Haiti and I’ve experienced a wall-less latrine in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri during army boot camp where sixty boys got to know each other in profound ways. I’ve smelled some nasty __it. But do you know what hit me (besides a pungent wall of odor) in that high-style lavatory in Washington, DC? The __it I smelled in those other places was no worse than the smell of the __it in that marble-lined palace of a bathroom in DC. In the end, people are just people, stench and all. So why should I be more nervous about talking to these particular people than Josué in Port-au-Prince or Private Alvin Lee from basic training?
So I washed my hands, left in search of fresh air and had some very good meetings where I think we made a difference for children fighting cancer.
I later found out I had gone into a restroom I wasn’t supposed to be in and my experience makes me curious about the diet of Oregonians. But that’s neither here nor there. What’s most important is that people are people and if you’ve got a story that can make a difference, they tend to listen no matter what their rank or office.
Rank (teehee) yes, it was.