Defining Moments

Sometimes we hear a few words, have a chance interaction, or get an unexpected result and suddenly our world shifts, our perspective changes and we feel the impact of something powerful.   We emerge lost in thought, awed, perhaps confused, or perhaps glowing with sharp clarity.  From the experience, we’ve become a different person.

These experiences are called defining moments.  They are different from a wedding, a birth, a new job – those are just important dates on the calendar.  Defining moments happen swiftly, without warning, and leave us changed in some way.

Girl sitting in school hallwayYou can even have a defining moment without being fully aware of it’s importance.  Maybe your red hair makes you  feel glamorous now because in sixth grade, a friend happened to say your hair was just like a beautiful movie star’s.  Or maybe you heard your aunt comment on how awkward your piano playing was and you never felt the same about playing.  Perhaps you saw a couple exchanging sarcastic words and you suddenly realized with deep gratitude how your spouse always speaks to you with respect.  Maybe something happened and you discovered courage or strength that you would never have thought possible.

The defining moment can come from a comment, a line in a book, a scene, an event, a different outcome … the source is not the issue.  The issue is that in that powerful moment, whether we realize it at the time or not, we have changed.  Our definition of ourselves or of our world has shifted.

As I thought about the concept of defining moments, I began to remember some of my own.  Those moments when I almost said “Ah ha!” out loud, as well as those moments when the wave of change occurred and I didn’t quite know what was happening.  They were often seemingly small things, like reading an email and having one sentence jump out because it so clearly illustrated a trait that I had not wanted to admit that my friend had, yet there it was and I saw that it always had been there.   I even had a defining moment tonight when I clipped my dog’s nail too close and she yelped and her nail bled.  I’ll take much more care with the clipping from now on.

Defining moments can help us understand ourselves better.  When a moment seems to surge with powerful impact, it’s time to pause and reflect.  It’s an opportunity for self-awareness. We can even search backwards for the moments and maybe discovering the moment of change will help us to break a pattern or belief that is holding us back today.

I see now that the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is just plain wrong.  Words can alter us in potent and sometimes permanent ways

Next time you hear or see something and feel a strong inner shift, or even feel like saying “Ah ha!”, take the time to reflect on it.  You’ve likely just experienced a defining moment.  Meditate on the moment and you may be awed at what you discover.

In peace,









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