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Turning on a Dime

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 26, 2010

Life, they say, is what happens while you’re otherwise occupied.

I’m not sure if I believe that, but I do believe that you can miss life by being occupied.   We can get caught up in crisis living and miss the turns on our personal paths that are most meaningful.

What do I mean?

Honestly, I’m grappling with what exactly I mean, so we’ll just talk it through together, since the matter is very much on my mind this morning due to two significant events.

The two events.  I guess that’s a good place to start.

Event #1:  a neighbor died.  He and his wife had one child, a son.  He was college-age, a smart guy with character and tons of potential.  A few years ago, he was crossing a bridge and a car veered into his lane and hit him head-on.  He had nowhere to go, and was killed.  His parents suffered the heartache of losing their child and now his father has passed, and my heart aches for his widow.  She’s buried her child and will now bury her husband, and she’s left to cope with the loss alone.  I find myself asking how will she bear it, and praying she’s a woman of faith because, I’ll tell you, I watched my mother bury two sons and then my father and I know that her faith is what got her through it intact.

Event #2:  all the tornadoes that hit in the last two days, and all the lives cut short because they did.  Each of those people had lives and hopes and dreams and aspirations.  I’m sure many had enormous potential and mile-long to-do lists, too.  Things that just couldn’t wait, so they put their lives on hold–the things important to them personally–to do those “can’t wait,” or crisis-living things.  Yet in the span of mere minutes, all of those things became insignificant.  Every bit of them did, because in that twinkling, they lost their lives.  All that potential and those hopes and dreams and aspirations went with them, too.

I can’t shake thoughts of them in those last minutes.  When they knew what was coming and they couldn’t avoid it.  What were they thinking then?  When the realization hit them that they were going to die, what were their thoughts?

I’m sure there was fear.  I’m sure there was anger and cries of, “But it’s too soon.  I’m not ready yet.”  And I’m sure there were regrets.  Things done that they wished could be undone.  Things left unsaid that now would remain unsaid.  Self-recrimination on priorities and perspectives of what most mattered now shifting.

I’m not sure of the nature of those regrets, but I wonder…  Were any of them thinking of the crisis-living things they simply had to do before the storm?

We all have duties, responsibilities and obligations.  Often so many of them that we keep pushing aside high-priority personal items.  It’s those things I wonder how these people felt about at that twinkling moment.

I know that during crisis moments we often see most clearly.  Our focus becomes laser sharp, intense on the matter at hand and we give everything–our all–to whatever is on our minds at that moment in time.

I know that on the other side of crises, people who have experienced those moments and survived often make a sharp turn in their lives.  They consider the crisis a wake-up call and redefine their lives.  They take a look at their priority list and turn it on its ear.  They shun crisis-living and adopt personal priority living.  And often that personal priority living has to do with dreams they’ve carried with them for a lifetime, or maybe hints of that dream that in that moment of intense clarity came sharply into focus.

This has me calling the question:  Can we reach that twinkling moment, that point in time where we have laser focus and gain that clarity without experiencing a personal, life-threatening crisis?

We can.  It isn’t hard to mentally place ourselves in the positions of others who have been there and done that.  And if we do, then we have the opportunity to learn from their experience.  We might not share all of the emotional impact that they endure, but we can grasp and project and imagine, and gain deeper insight and understanding.  We can awaken and seek wisdom in this way.

There is always merit in seeking wisdom.  In looking at our own crisis-living items and personal priority items and weighing what we’re doing.  There’s wisdom in evaluating these things when we aren’t in crisis because we still have an opportunity to change them.

For some, they’ll choose the status quo.  Life’s comfortable and they don’t want it any different.  That’s their choice, and I’m sure there’s comfort in having weighed the matter and made the call.  The peace that comes with knowing you’ve considered it and you’re doing what’s right for you.

Some will redefine aspects of their lives.  Of those who do, some will stick with those new changes and some will slide back into the old.  Their choice.  Again, better because it’s come as a result of deep thought and not of apathy.

Some will challenge every single thing that has been a part of their lives and make significant changes.  Life-altering, life-defining changes.  Of these, some will be reborn into a life very different from the one they’ve been living, and they’ll thump themselves for waiting so long.  Some will wonder what they were thinking to do this at this point in their lives, in their careers.  Regardless, they will choose from a broader, more insightful perspective.

You know, I don’t think what’s significant is the path one takes so much as that one takes it with a deeper awareness of life.  Taking it deliberately.  Intent on taking it.  That is a good thing.

Whether that awareness brings a person to a point on their journey where they move straight ahead or turn on a dime, veering sharply in a totally different direction, well that’s a choice.  But the awareness, and all it brings to the  person, well that’s a gift.

A gift?

Yes.  Absolutely, a gift.  It’s one of those gems of wisdom that is home to solace and comfort and peace.

Now I know what I mean.  And I’m going to reassess from this perspective.  Will I stay on the current road or change directions on a dime?   I don’t know.  But I will know soon.  Will you?



©2008, Vicki Hinze


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