Just as we all remember where we were on 9/11, and those who were old enough recall the "Day of Infamy" at Pearl Harbor and/or John Kennedy's assassination, we all have our personal moments of infamy emblazoned on our souls. What amazes me is how few these moments are and how few of us pause to compile them.
A single moment can change history and a single moment can change individual lives.
The moments that change history are shared by multitudes. Our personal moments are ours alone. There is a comfort in sharing moments of history.
I saw Walter Cronkite announce President Kennedy's death live on TV. I remember my neighbor shouting that we should kill Castro. While our reactions were quite different, there was the sense of having someone - and then everyone - sharing the intensity of that moment. It was happening to all of us, not just to me.
When we experience intensely personal moments of joy or sorrow, we are fortunate if we have anyone else experiencing the intensity of those feelings. Almost always we are quite alone - not necessarily physically, but emotionally.
These moments of our lives
really shape us. As if pieces
on a chess board, we find
ourselves moved to a new location.
Life is never quite the same.
Everyone may imagine how wonderful it is to win the lottery, but who can feel the same joy the winner feels?
We watch newscasts which show people who have just experienced a terrible tragedy being asked, "How do you feel about -." We sympathize for the moment, then move on to find out what our weather will be tomorrow.
These moments of our lives really shape us. As if pieces on a chess board, we find ourselves moved to a new location. Life is never quite the same.
We most easily remember the most intense moments of joy and sorrow. The moment I gave birth leaps to mind. It introduced me to pure joy. A less momentous, but just as intense, moment comes painfully to mind. My sister had come to be with me on a difficult weekend. She was leaving to return to her home, 200 miles away. I stood in my driveway feeling totally alone, trying to smile and wave goodbye. No one viewing that scene would know it was one of the most painful moments of my life.
Those moments that mark our turning points can be either recognizable to everyone as significant or seem completely insignificant. What makes them significant is what they mean to us personally.
We all have intense personal moments. How many moments that define our lives can we remember? Think about one just for a moment. How about ten?
It is a fascinating exercise to write down ten moments that defined or redefined our own lives. It is not a list anyone else can make for us, although the closest people to us can probably help us explore the possibilities.
Those moments that mark
our turning points can be
either recognizable to
everyone as significant
or seem completely
insignificant. What makes
them significant is what
they mean to us personally.
As with everything in life, how events shape us is more of our own doing than what events shape us. We can all learn from the moments in life that impact us most. The first step is simply to recognize them. Once we find our own 9/11s we'll know ourselves much better.
Our own stories are always the ones that interest us the most and provide the most food for thought. It would be a shame not to open the book.
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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