Thursday, March 10, 2011


You may have read about the exaltation of peak experiences, but I ask you, how often do you meet somebody who just had one? I don’t think I ever had, not until yesterday.
He came in, carrying the fatigue of a ten-hour workday, but you wouldn’t have known it. In fact, I was glad that the room had a ceiling for it seemed we might need a barrier to keep him with us if he simply floated upwards on a current of joy.
Here was a man who had driven a Cadillac. Never mind that it was not his own Cadillac. That wasn’t the point. He sat inside it. He breathed it in. He and the Cadillac bonded. He started it. He actually drove it.
A marvelous car it was, shiny, black and new, with every possible convenience. The seats were equipped with massage capability, and the temperature could be set precisely for the driver and separately for the passenger. You could reach across and feel upon your arm the change from 18 degrees to 22, as if a wall were there to mark the space. What person in his place would not have paused to savour the moment? And yet, when he dallied among the luxuries, reluctant to end the experience one second earlier than necessary, his colleagues came to ask if he needed help getting started, and then stopped to join in his celebration. They had, they said, just witnessed a vision of true ecstasy. So compelling was the story of it all that I had to drop everything just to hear it.
It was Abraham Maslow who first wrote of peak experience. "Peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, possibly the awareness of an "ultimate
truth" and the unity of all things ... the experience fills the individual with wonder and awe....he feels at one with the world, and is pleased with
it ...."
So here am I, yesterday’s onlooker, wondering which is better--to have a peak experience, or to witness one?

No comments: