6. Life Cracks Open: When you let the other person decide...

Anything at all. But especially: the restaurant, the movie, the dance club, the size of the Christmas tree, the brand of the new car, the length of the sofa, the time of the brunch and which overpriced-but-requisite package of school pictures to buy.

7. Life Cracks Open: When you sprinkle salt flowers on your chicken.

You don't have time to make bread (even in a bread machine); and, quite frankly, you're getting a little irritated with all the online women out there that have the energy to make their own jam and, God help you, yogurt. And yet, one Sunday night, on the advice of the shelf stocker at the grocery story, you sprinkle fleur-de-sel (translated: flower of salt, or just plain old French sea salt) on your boneless, skinless, grilled chicken breast. Suddenly, a light descends on your dinner—a golden light hitherto unseen, save in patches of various still-life masterpieces in museums—and that chicken turns crunchy, delectable, transcendent. Which results in the belief that neither life nor last-minute dinners ever, ever have to be boring.

8. Life Cracks Open: When you undergo a "mirror" epiphany.

Even at 42.7 years, it happens. Someone points out something amazing about you that (1) You never realized was amazing (for example, you are told, "You never interrupt my stories with a, 'That's okay'"; or, "You're the only person that remembers I majored in performance video in college"); and, (2) you never realized was something you even did, because it just came naturally, no trying to be a good friend or better person involved. Link this moment to another moment in the past when you thought, "I'm not amazing enough." Enjoy the sensation of the latter feeling suddenly shriveling into the scrap of nonsense that it always was.

9. Life Cracks Open: When you hear the story of your grandparents first date for the first time in your life.

They met in Poland. Then ran into each other in New York—first, at the synagogue; then, at the dance. He offered her punch. She asked him to hold her shawl. And sure, all this is romantic, you're thinking. Until it hits you, "Why the heck did it take you that long to ask her out, Grandpa?," or, "Come on! It took two countries, three years and a friend in common to get you guys to one silly movie?" The only thing to do in eureka moments such as this, is to apply it to yourself. Someone, somewhere is waiting for you to hurry up—and speak up.

Still Points North

Leigh Newman is the deputy editor at and the author of Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown Up World, One Long Journey Home.

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