The inspiration for this blog grew out of my own experiences of life’s turning points.
A turning point is something that changes the story of our lives in some significant way: a birth, a death, a divorce, a diagnosis. Moving to a new city. Falling in love. Leaving a job. These are things that divide our lives into before and after segments. (Between them is a dramatic during; but I digress.)
What these experiences have in common is a quality of permanence. Some things, once done, cannot be undone. Some things, once seen, cannot be unseen. Some truths, once known, cannot be forgotten.
What I noticed about the turning points in my own life was, there were certain thresholds that were points of no return. Once over them, I couldn’t go back — even if I desperately wanted to. One door opens; another closes.
There’s a wonderful scene in the film “Field of Dreams” where a rookie baseball player named Archie Graham steps off the field to save a little girl choking in the stands. The camera work that shows the transformation of the young man into his older self, Doc Graham, is beautifully done. And the respect the other players show him as he leaves the field always brings tears to my eyes.
But it’s the exchange just before that, where Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella says, “Oh my God, you can’t go back,” that really gets to me. Once transformed, Doc Graham couldn’t go back to being the young man he was before, or fulfill his lifelong dream of batting in the majors. “It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it,” Kinsella says. “God, they’d consider it a tragedy.”
Graham replies, “Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.”
To leave the playing field of life with no regrets; to not look back and wonder “what if….?”
That would be a worthy goal. I hope to get there someday.
But until that day, while I’m still alive, I want to know more about those turning points where life could have gone one way but instead went a different way, opening new possibilities but closing off others.
I want to understand what happens in that I space where everything changes.
To do so, I’ll be conducting interviews with volunteers who are willing to tell their stories about the turning points that transformed their lives. The initial survey comes in a Q & A-style format that invites participants to reflect on how the experience changed them, what they wish they had known before, and what they would say to someone in a similar situation.
There are thousands of choices we make in any given time that shape who we become. But there are only a handful of moments that alter the course of our lives. Those are the moments that interest me. Those are the stories I am drawn to listen to, and to share.