The emotional pain was excruciating. I was stuck. My answer would decide the outcome for our team. I heard a soft voice behind me whisper, "No pressure."
No pressure my ass. Everything pointed to the traditional answer, and everyone around me knew what that answer was and needed me to act on that answer.
But, something inside me disagreed. There was something more than meets the eye, and the answer wasn't rational. I played the problem through from start to finish again.
To make things worse, more confusing... I'd been wrong before. Performance anxiety was creeping in and the fear and embarrassment of screwing up dominating my thoughts.
So there I was standing at the crossroads of rationality and spirituality trying to decide which of the voices in my head was accurate. Depending on your perspective, both were right. However only one of them would prove to be the solution to the problem.
I did the only thing I could. I took a deep breath in, and as I exhaled, I quieted my mind. I'd been down this path countless times before. I knew the way like the back of my hand.
As my mind quieted, I became hyper-aware of the eyes boring into me. Waiting for me. Counting on me.
As my mind quieted, the fog of emotion cleared. I was unto myself, not very deep but well within my place of receptivity.
There it was as plain a the nose on my face. The missing piece. The fatal flaw in our logic. We would win.
I open my eyes and smiled. My team held their breath as I solved the koan...
We did win and earned our bragging rights until the next bar trivia game... Drinks poured in.
Balancing rationality and spirituality requires much training and practice. My 30+ years of both paid off.
Note: This is a semi-true story about the isolation being both rational and spiritual.