The map of our lives is created in defining moments. There are times when we anticipate and recognize a defining moment but others simply appear. What we do in these moments, planned or unplanned, determines the course of our lives.
This is the time of year when young adults set themselves on a course that literally influences the rest of their lives. Some graduate and follow the lure of a regular paycheck; others prepare to go off to college. This decision is a primary defining moment, ratcheting up to the level of selecting a mate and deciding if and when to have children.
We are aware that these are important decisions as we make them but seldom realize how very life defining they are until we experience their consequences and compare them to the lives of others who made different choices. Then we may rejoice at our own choices or suffer the agony of regret.
If we realize we made a wrong choice, we are fortunate indeed if it is not too late to make alterations. The young man in a dead-end career, who now has a family to support, may be able to take night classes and improve his situation over time. An abused woman may find the courage to strike out on her own and look for different qualities in her next mate. These decisions are momentous and we usually know that as we make them.
Relationships have these defining moments
and often happen quickly, without thought.
But they reveal so much,
often defining the
Other defining moments are more subtle. Making a job change may not appear defining. Perhaps it is the same position, just closer to home or paying a little more. But what is the culture of the two companies? Is one flexible and the other not? Does one provide upward mobility or benefits the other lacks? Where we work and who we work with make such an impact on our lives that we might not realize the impact before we make a change. A defining moment is often one we cannot relive.
Relationships have these defining moments and often happen quickly, without thought. But they reveal so much, often defining the relationship itself. When Elaine Thompson became my best friend decades ago, she had just told me I was being selfish. Moi? Selfish? She was right, however, and I realized in that moment that I had a friend I could trust to tell me the truth, a character strength I value more than anything else. Here was, I knew, a true friend.
My inner circle is defined by offering and accepting truth, knowing it emanates from love and character. When it is breached, it is a defining moment in the relationship, enhancing or diminishing the relationship itself.
It is in defining moments that we shape our future lives, not just the moment itself. If we are aware of those moments and their impact, we learn not just about our lives and the direction they are choosing, but about who we are at our core.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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