Sometimes in life you have that moment that changes everything. It could that first moment you fell in love, getting into that college you always wanted, or winning the gold medal in the race you trained so hard for. Most of life’s defining moments can be just ordinary, everyday events or comments that upon further reflection could be the catalyst you need to make a change in your life.
I remember once when I was a junior in high school, I was 16 years old, and typical of all 16 year olds, you think you know everything. I came home from practice that day and I was tired, really tired. I was at school at 6:30 AM to get tutored in math, went to school, went to track practice for two hours, then practiced my beloved hurdles for an hour after that. I got home at 5:45 which was coincedentally the same time the day started. My Dad as he usually did complained about what I thought was nit-picky stuff. But this day when I got home he was on me good and he wouldn’t let up. I think the last straw was he wanted me to move my shoes which were by the door but not necessarily in tripping distance of anybody. I finally said, “What do you want from me? I am an honor roll student, I play 2 sports, I am in student council, and I look forward to spending time with my family. Really, what do you want from me? Are the shoes really that important?” And you know what? For one of the only times in my life my Dad did not say anything back to me. He just looked at me and I knew he got it. He walked away and we didn’t talk for the rest of the night but for that brief moment he understood what I was saying as a young adult and he realized that things in fact could be a lot worse than shoes by the door.
I always refer back to that moment many times in my life. It really wasn’t significant in the respect of a life changing event on the surface, but it was to me. That moment for me symbolized a difference in our relationship. Basically, learn to pick your battles. I was proud of myself and I in no way was trying to be disrespectful towards him. We are all human beings and sometimes even the people we love the most can push us to that edge where a cordial reaction is the least of your concern at the time. Three things I learned from that defining moment:
1. Things don’t change that much- I foolishly thought that things would be much different from that point and they were for maybe a week. But it’s funny how people slip into their old habits again, when they think they have done enough changing. Change is an evolving process that rarely ends, you just do a better job of adapting to it. That is especially important in our relationships with your loved ones. You did not have the same relationship with them when they were young vs. old and now that they have passed on, how is that relationship better than when they were alive?
2. Mean what you say- I can imagine that I had a lookof utter frustration and anger on my face when I was talking to my Dad. But I meant every word I said when I said it. It wasn’t out of anger either. This is an extremely important point to remember. Never say anything out of anger to anyone, especially a loved one. You could be apologizing for years to come, or risk that loved one not forgiving you at all. Life is too short to remember the anger. Instead create positive memories that will last a lifetime and beyond.
3. Just understand- The only reason my defining moment happened was because I really didn’t feel that my Dad cared to understand what I was going through at the time. Granted looking back on it, it was run of the mill high school stuff, but sometimes the only thing you want your loved one to do is listen and understand. This can be worth its weight in gold. In I Miss My Dad…I outline the fact that my Dad was an outstanding listener, but not necessarily an outstanding understander, if that is really a word.
No matter what, let your defining moment affect you in a positive way even if at the time it had a negative effect on you. There can be nothing worse than going through life then trying to relive the past with no success.
To all of our defining moments, both now and in the future!
Always a friend to listen,
Eric TomeiTags: grief, hope