On BoingBoing I came across this speech on living a meaningful, irreligious life given by Adam Savage, of Discovery Channel's MythBusters. The talk was given when he was accepting the Harvard Secular Society's Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism on behalf of MythBusters.
I particularly like the following section about the (chilling) moment of realization that the real world is not what you were raised on:
The fiction of continuity and stability that your parents have painted for you is totally necessary for a growing child. When you realize that it's not the way the world works, it's a chilling moment. It's supremely lonely.— Delivered to the Harvard Humanist Society, April 2010
Adam is just talking about "growing up" but there is a parallel to an OTDer's shift from believing to unbelieving. I remember sensing my personal moment (at the end of my long search) when I came to the conclusion that god doesn't exist. That moment that evoked many feelings: acceptance, clarity, relief. But mostly there was an unfamiliar sense of "This is it. What you see is what you get." It was (and is) both reassuring and frightening. I was no longer worried about literal bogey men but then I was more worried about the real dangers in the world. You might say I felt more control over my personal destiny (what I would make of my life was MY fault/credit) but at the same time recognizing I was at the mercy of The Universe (i.e. car accidents, recessions, natural disasters, illness).
Have you experienced an "Ah Ha!/Oh Shit!" moment of your own? What emotions did it bring out of you?