For me, these moments have been heart and soul moments – not mind, logic, or typical measures of success moments.
They have been the following my heart and listening to the call of my soul moments that have stirred something inside, shaking me awake, nudging me forward, calling me to show up… even when it’s been hard or I haven’t wanted to. These are the moments that have made me more alive, more me…
These moments let me step fully into the life I have been given, even when I really didn’t like how things were going. The times I did not get stuck in a puddle of victimhood forever, but rose up, stepped forward. These are the times I’ve been able to create something from the pain, work toward initiating change, being part of something new.
Consistently they are moments that that energize and activate me – the moments that say, “We’re off on the next great adventure,” or “Oh boy…here we go, whether I like it or not…”
For me they have often come after major hurdles in life that have threatened to stop me, break me, or bring me to my knees. Sometimes these moments came through death or devastation.
At times they have been excruciatingly painful – they have stopped me and torn me apart, throwing me off a path I desperately wanted to be on. Until (with a lot of loving help and support) I was able to start crawling forward.
Sometimes they came through inspiration and excitement (often a powerful combination of terror and excitement). The words that come pouring through from some unknown place. The art that calls to be created. The move that says, “It’s time!”
Reflecting on several decades of life helped me to realize that there is not ONE defining moment in our lives, but rather a wide collection of them that have brought us to this day.
Defining moments are the “right” steps and the seeming “mis-steps” along the way on the path called YOU. They are the significant yeses and the critical no’s of rejecting what “makes sense,” walking away from what does not fit, and sometimes turning away from the thing you thought you were supposed to be or do.
They are the waking up and coming alive moments. The moments of daring, courage, hearts breaking open. The times you listen to the nudges that get you to the next right place, that bring in the right people at the right time. These are often times you can’t explain or justify (and likely you don’t care to!).
The times you break through the fear and do what you know you have to do, be it “good” or “bad,” easy or tremendously challenging.
More often than not, we don’t know these are defining moments until years later when we look back and see where they’ve led, what they’ve given birth to. At that moment when we stepped into the dark abyss we could never have imagined where it was taking us.
These are the moments when you learn something new about who you are and what you can handle – the times you learn a little bit more about what you stand for. What you will and won’t tolerate. What you absolutely must take action on. The times you make the hard calls or take the bold risks and do the thing even though you’re shaking in your boots.
They are the moments of grace that allow things to unfold as they are meant to on a universal scale, not in the man-made version of life. Only time will reveal the outcome for many of these moments. All we can do is show up for what’s here now – right in this moment. We may not have any idea how it will go.
These are the moments that make the butterflies swarm in your belly, your heart pound through your chest, your whole being get a little dizzy wondering, “Am I really doing this?”
The ability of the heart to find its way back to a friendship that seemed to be lost, to show up for a loved one who is lost in the darkness, the trusting that somehow, we will be all right, no matter what happens… moving into and through fear, into joy and allowing ourselves to feel it all.
These are the defining moments of a life, and I truly am grateful for my wide collection of them.
By William Stafford
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
What are your defining moments? Take a moment to soak into them and feel how they feel in your body? I’ve recorded this meditation to guide you through this process if you like.
And if you’d like to hear the conversation that was lit from the spark of this exploration, you can catch it here at Arts & Healing with Sandra.