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Defining moments....

Old 08-16-2006, 04:16 AM
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Defining moments....

Are there times in everyone's life that create life important changes - changes equal to the importance of life itself, or percieved that way?

My apologies for over posting but at the moment one thread is sparking a new thought which I'm just as curious about - this is one of them.

I think the majority of my defining moments happened very young. One was asking why 'he' drank meths (in the uk = metholated spirits, paint stripper), it's blue or purple colour meant I knew it was poison, I was about 7. The answer I recieved was that he drank because it was poison - probably inaccurate but as I later learned about suicide it's inaccuracy was unimportant. The lesson I learned was about human despair, and I understood it beyond my vocabulary to describe it - it still remains a pictorial concept to me.

Another moment would be watching a black and white film of starved bodies piled into mass graves and noticing the numeric tattoo - the same as Manni's, in a moment of knowing what happened to his family, and the place Cyril talked about his troop finding by it's smell. Hatred grew in me, for a long time it was aimed at people, those who had done that, it was a vividly violent hatred.

My feelings of violence towards a nation felt reasonable, even good till something else happened that would change me. My family (being religious) took me to see Ghandi, we were the only white people there in a PACKED city cinema - I THINK I was about 8 or 9. I remembered the story so accurately that I could tell it blow by blow 20 years later when finally I watched it again. When I watched it, transfixed I learned that the hatred I held was the means of violence, that my hatred was the doer. By the end of the film I was overwhelmed with shame, shame of my nation, shame of my own thoughts, shame of my colour and I was crying silently and uncontrollabley, an Indian old lady (I knew she was indian because she wore a sari and had the stain of a tikka mark) put her hand on my head and smiled at me. This is something that doesn't stay with me in words, the picture is there but I understand it in terms of feeling. It was ok - it is still ok.

Those moments changed me. For each one I could never be exactly who I was before, in adulthood lots of changes have taken place but none as fast or as total in terms of who I am - perhaps because I have remained the person those things shaped.

Is it like this for everyone? Or anyone else? Do you have times you know changed you down to your core and lastingly?
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:38 AM
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Beautiful post Equus.

I can think of lots of life-changing events. Some occurred over a stretch of time and happened slowly, others seemingly overnight or instant. Still others are things that happened when I was very young and didn't then understand their significance, only to experience a major life change upon their discovery. Events that occurred while I was in the womb possibly altered my existence on earth forever. I experienced a traumatic birth in which I almost died, and I wonder about that too.
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:42 AM
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I do.

I found myself on the Erskine Bridge (v high) in the middle of a storm, in the middle of the night, in my socks, barely able to see I was crying so hard.

In the midst of this chaos, the realisation came that the person who was hurting me so much and had driven me to this desperate measure really wasn't worth it.

I didn't know it at the time, but it was the moment that I realised that I was worth more than I ever thought I was, and more than anyone's opinion of me.

Don't know where that came from, it's not something I've told to anyone but the closest.

Do you think some kind of dramatic event is needed to make a defining moment?

J
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:52 AM
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Do you think some kind of dramatic event is needed to make a defining moment?
I don't know - perhaps to squash big changes into a moment does take something, or maybe it's about how peeps react to dramatic events, maybe it's just us....

I've seen that bridge and can imagine it in a storm! If it took that moment to have you here as who you are then I'm glad for it with brass knobs on!! Same for any and all womb incidents!
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Old 08-16-2006, 05:01 AM
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Here's an incident that changed me twice:

When I was about 5 or 6, while I was sitting on my Grandpa's lap. When I told him I loved him, he asked what I thought love means. I thought about it, and I remember being squirmish as I replied "I don't know." (If I could have defined my feelings then, I would have described love as unconditional.) He told me then that love is when you would die for someone. That was a heavy statement for a 6 year old to assimilate, and I took it at face value. After he said that, I always defined my love for someone by whether or not I would die for them.

It wasn't until I was older that I realized he was referring to Christ with that statement. With that realization, I then had to re-define my standards for loving someone.

Interestingly, it's the only thing I ever remember him telling me. In that sense, the sentiment remains very precious to me.
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Old 08-16-2006, 05:07 AM
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That must have been hard to carry as a child, thankfully we can only die once but have infinate freedom to love!!
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Old 08-16-2006, 05:46 AM
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Recently I referenced having watched a PBS documentary titled Understanding, about the function of memory, how they're created, stored, and revisited, and the way memories affect perception and shape perspective. It's believed that all memories are registered in the brain, every memory makes a lasting impression, though many quickly become lost because they aren't stored for retrieval; nevertheless, they're in there. Some build and affect slowly over time, others are so dramatic and create such strong impression they actually affect the hard-wiring of the brain, in a dramatic and lasting way. It's a very real, physical process.

Of course the experiences we have in early youth are the most critical and influential because the brain is still so young and forming, impressionable. Though all throughout life the brain is barraged by new input, sometimes so powerful they can immediately affect the hard-wiring of the brain. Extremely traumatic instances can be so shocking. In December of last year I was so severely shaken by a sudden realization (resulting from convergence of elements) that my entire direction was off course, a seizure of some sort resulted, and nothing has been the same since. Something snapped, literally, and I can't ever go back to the previous way of thinking. In retrospect that was a good thing, though uncomfortable and unsettling, as life changing events will be. I think more difficult to adapt to as we grow older, because so many other brain connections are already established, and have to adjust accordingly.
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Old 08-16-2006, 05:48 AM
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I don't remember it as having been really hard Eq, but it certainly was demanding, and caused me to closely examine my reasons for loving people. I still believe that the words love and hate are tossed around rather frivolously, but we won't go there.

Examining my reasons for loving someone had its benefits, though there were times when I really thought I loved someone, but didn't think I wanted to die for them. That caused some conflict in me, because I didn't think I loved them in the sense of the word as I understood it then. I think everyone has their own definitions of love, so what might be true to me now might not to someone else. We'll just say I ended up adopting a liberal definition. I think he would have wanted it that way, because he was a very humanistic individual and a good man.

He passed away when I was seven, and I so regret that I never had a chance to know him better. He lives on through surviving family members however, who are always happy to share their memories.

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Old 08-16-2006, 06:02 AM
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I have always wanted the feeling of some dramatic life changing experience but never had it. I thought it would be rather romantic seeing as I grew up in the Catholic faith with the ideas of miracles and revelations. Just never, ever has happened to me. I don't know either that I feel like I have had some absolute change in my life, my memories of childhood (young) are pretty good. Feel like I lost my way sometimes, feel like the prodigal child ... mainly feel like I always had the knowledge of what was important, I just didn't always listen to my inner self.

No life changing experiences for me ... and now I am happy with that. I use not to be, I use to want to really discover god in some miraculous way. I know some people do, I wanted that. But now I recognise my own truths and am quite content with them mostly.

Mind you, I have had some pretty major and dramatic occurences in my life, I just don't see them as defining me or ultimately revealing anything to me in a sudden way. Not in the way that you describe anyway Equus, I will have to think about it ... I did feel like I had entered a nightmare when my husband had a head injury and life seemed to crumble around me.

peace and love,
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Old 08-16-2006, 06:08 AM
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A defining moment for love...

I was 8 or 9, newly tucked up in bed with the lamp on beside me. My mum and dad in the doorway, holding each other and just looking at me. Already sleepy, I closed my eyes in the middle of a group smile.

Course it all went to sh** when I reached puberty lol, but it's a good memory and a gentle one.

J
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Old 08-16-2006, 10:40 AM
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Brigid's post calls to mind a study I came across last year about people whose minds/emotional responses tend to dwell in the extremes, such as people afflicted with bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. Multiple case studies were considered, individuals who were treated with drugs to ameliorate the conditions, temper the extremes. And the drugs did moderate the conditions, eliminating the seizures and hallucinations and freeing them from the wildly unpredictable vacillations of extreme euphoria/ depression.

Yet, in the cases studied, and in other reports I've read on bipolar and other mental conditions, including addiction, quite often the patients MISS dwelling in the extremes, they long for the extreme drama, the intensity of deep-seated profound impressions experienced when dwelling in the extremes. A huge part of their lives was oriented around those "life changing events" that seemed to happen almost constantly. Many forgo the stabilizing prescribed drugs (or return to self-medicating drugs) in favor of revisiting those extremes of mind/ emotion. Even while knowing that left untreated they're placing their lives at risk, for the resulting seizures/ life-threating situations that accompany the unstable mind.

Far better to be able to recognize and appreciate depth of feeling without having to visit the extremes to get there. How much better to be content in experiencing the simple pleasures of life, finding meaning in "normal" conditions and environments and state of mind. A far more stable, less volatile, and less dangerous way to live. And I think a more peaceful way to be.

See now, I'm talking to myself here, trying to convince myself that dwelling in the extremes isn't necessary, intensely profoundly moving though they may be....
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Old 08-16-2006, 11:23 AM
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See now, I'm talking to myself here, trying to convince myself that dwelling in the extremes isn't necessary, intensely profoundly moving though they may be....
I'm just very relieved I could only list 3!!!
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Old 08-17-2006, 06:41 AM
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You people never cease to amaze me with the cool topics you bring up.
When I accepted the fact, that I truly believed, that I existed in a world without a God, that was incredibly defining for me. Of course there was much that lead up to it, but there was a condensed period of time where it all came together.

Speaking of God....and Christ if I may....
Originally Posted by Autumn
He told me then that love is when you would die for someone. That was a heavy statement for a 6 year old to assimilate, and I took it at face value. After he said that, I always defined my love for someone by whether or not I would die for them.

It wasn't until I was older that I realized he was referring to Christ with that statement. With that realization, I then had to re-define my standards for loving someone.
After already being an atheist, a father, a husband, son, brother, grandson, all these things that suggest the presence of love involved in a relationship, I never quite understood what love was or what it entailed. I certainly never thought I would or could die for anyone, with the exception of my daughters, but that is paternal extinct, I think.
There was an event where it could have been possible that I died for someone, someone I never met before. (it was not a close call or anything like that, I do not want to imply something false.) But there was an accident, a van was turned over-turned. A Mom and a young girl was inside. They need to get out as gasoline was leaking all over. A co worker and I jumped in that Van to help them get out the seatbelts and the car-seat.

At the time, I didn't know why I was willing to that. I was in fact afraid of risk.

I will get back to that, the conclusion I came to in hindsight.

Back to what I came to realize about love, particularly through Christ. After becoming an atheist. I had always made attempts to find value in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I mean, c'mon, "love thy neighbor" makes damn good sense. Anyway, though I don't buy into him being a relative of a God, I do buy into the fact that this idea of universal Love that accompanies his name, is fabulous. So a defining moment for me was understanding love, what it actually about. It is so ironic that Jesus helped teach an atheist this.
By considering Jesus, I was able to recognize, or last get the idea that love was equally dispursed. He loved everyone the same.
That was the key. Love is universal. It is complete. True love holds no boundaries. Which is why I brought up the car accident as a defining moment too. I didn't want to die for anyone else, particularly at that point in my life as I wasn't content with my life. However, in hindsight, I was able to conclude that my appreciation (love) for life, not mine particularly, just the idea of it, motivated me to act without thinking.
But anyway, the thing about love and Jesus is, that ever since I thought of love as having one definition that applies across the board to every one, if a person really truly wants to experience love, like Jesus did, like Mother Teresa, Ghandi, then to truly understand the experience of love would be to try to experience it fully.
Note*there is an entire topic about why people feel different towards others if love is universal. For the sake of time I will just point out that my theory is based on accompanying emotions. For instance, love for spouse, child parent, neighbor, the video store clerk, all the same. The thing(s) that make them unique to the particular relationships are emotions such as, passion, respect, admiration, gratitude, (just to name a few) and they have variable degrees. Those things contribute to the love helping make relationships unique.
So, it was Jesus who helped me realize this. Or at least consider it. And of course the way of thinking is an ongoing source of interest that is also subject to change. I am no Mother Teresa, but I try, often fail, but I guess i at least think about trying to experience this equal, universal love. It could be easily identified as a simple respect for life.

One of my biggest defining moments too, was the "ah-ha" moment (as this lady I met called it) that flicked the switch in my head when I realized drugs were part of the past. That was huge.

Thanks for allowing me to share.
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Old 08-17-2006, 06:53 AM
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"Note*there is an entire topic about why people feel different towards others if love is universal. For the sake of time I will just point out that my theory is based on accompanying emotions. For instance, love for spouse, child parent, neighbor, the video store clerk, all the same. The thing(s) that make them unique to the particular relationships are emotions such as, passion, respect, admiration, gratitude, (just to name a few) and they have variable degrees. Those things contribute to the love helping make relationships unique."

What about those who hate? Where on earth does hate come from? I'm talking about premeditated hate, not just moments of passion.

J
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Old 08-17-2006, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by bahookie

What about those who hate? Where on earth does hate come from? I'm talking about premeditated hate, not just moments of passion.

J
I think that to hate a person has to dislike themselves intensely. I have never seen someone who truly likes themselves hate.

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Old 08-17-2006, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bahookie

What about those who hate? Where on earth does hate come from? I'm talking about premeditated hate, not just moments of passion.

J
Well, hate is one of those emotions that exist in addition to love. Just because love can be universal doesn't mean it is for any and everyone. As a matter of fact it hardley is for anyone. Most people 'love' very selectively. The point is to truly receive the benefit of something one should consider the capability of it. Consider its potential. Hate, what about hate. It is a very intense emotion that could be regarded as powerful as love, but what are the benefits. I see none. I see it as incredibly taxing to the individual experiencing it. It interferes with the ability to love.
As far as where hate comes from, well, that is extensive. Generally, it results from the inability to be accountable for oneself and relate to reality. What does that mean? People who hate avoid responsibility. it becomes a decision to blame. It gets deep. There is a very fine line that seperates hate from disapproving the actions of others, but they are seperate experiences.
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Old 08-17-2006, 09:41 AM
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Couldn't have said it better myself, Bobby.
And I'm short of writing time today, so thank you for so eloquently summing that up. The impetus for hate is important for people to understand, about themselves, and about others.
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