Defining moments

I generally think of defining moments as big things.  A fork in the road.  A tree across the road, blocking the way.  Boulders, all over the road.  Big.  Loud.  Obvious.


But maybe I am thinking wrong.  Perhaps we are stepping on defining moments all the while, and they roll, sometimes, under our feet as we walk down the gravel road, but mostly we hardly notice the pebbles we step on at all.  There are so many, and they are so small, so everyday.  We are looking down the road for the forks and trees and boulders, or we are looking at the cow in the field or at the idiot walking ahead of us.  Pebbles, what pebbles? 


But there they are, all the same. They spread behind us, moved from their original position.  We have moved them, and unbeknownst to us, they have moved us.   They seem insignificant at the time – one more coffee, one more cigarette, a letter unanswered, some promise unfulfilled – but I think the everyday, the one at a time, those can be defining moments, too.  We just don’t know they are defining us until later.  Sometimes, much later.


I found out this week that my father has lung cancer. LUNG CANCER. cancer.


He smoked for many years.  He quit, and he has been walking on smooth asphalt for over 10 years, but turns out, maybe all those pebbles he stepped on way back made just a little sound – so little he didn’t hear each one at the time.  Today, however, all those little sounds are screaming together as the doctors tell him LUNG CANCER.


I can’t help thinking of all those little pebbles that seem so small, and I just have this shrieking in my head “Why don’t we see the pebbles? Why can’t we hear them when they are whispering to us?  If we knew what they were telling us, would we stop and listen?  If what we were doing was wrong, would we take it back?”


I don’t know.  You can’t take it back, so I guess it doesn’t matter.  And who’s to say that even if you took it back that you wouldn’t still be sitting here looking at the boulder in front of you now? Life’s funny that way.


Regardless, I have 2 songs that keep playing over and over in my head.  And, looking back at the pebbles.


Tracy Chapman’s Change and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (originally a Nine Inch Nails song, but I like Johnny Cash better).  Click a link.  Listen. 


One song ends with a question – “Would you change?”

The other ends with an answer – “If I could start again,
a million miles away,
                                                   I would keep myself.
                                                   I would find a way.”


If only you could know you would want to find a way, long before you needed to. 

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2 Responses to Defining moments

  1. Dawn says:

    I’m so sorry to “hear” about your dad.You are as an amazing story teller in type as you are in person. I was actually stopping by to see if you were posting updates on your pool.

  2. Valla says:

    We don’t notice the pebbles we’re stepping on until one gets in our shoe. Usually we can shake it out and go on. If we can’t, we have to adjust and walk differently. Would we discard the pebble if it turned into a boulder? Maybe, but not if it made us walk taller.

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