Life is a series of defining moments strung together by the passage of time. We gauge our successes and failures by how we act whenever we find ourselves in a gut-check mode; those moments of truth when we have to make a choice of either caving under the weight of adversity or seizing an opportunity to turn things around and make adversity work for you. Every one of us has the ability to be a game changer. At any given moment, we have the power to say: This is NOT how this story is going to end. Even when the chips are down and it starts to feel like all is lost – there exists a defining moment to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Every test in our lives makes us bitter or better, every problem comes to break us or make us. The choice is always ours whether to become victims or victors.
Defining moments define our character. I grew up in a place where character and community meant everything. It didn’t matter whose kid you were or what street you lived on, every one of your elders held an unwritten and benevolent dominion over you. Opting to challenge or defy these parents-by-proxy was never a good move. We were too young to realize it then, but what was really happening was that camaraderie of families who were preserving the codes of morality and ethics was defining who we would grow up to be. Naively, we felt oppressed. Unknowingly, we were learning things that school could not teach us – that character matters and that your outlook will only ever be as bright as your sense of community. Whenever someone was down-and-out, strong communities rallied together to help another phoenix rise. I was fortunate to witness many such defining moments in my formative years. They humble me to this very day.
I worry sometimes that we may have lost some of that same level of compassion and sense of community somewhere along the way. The city I live in has had hosts of defining moments over the years. Some of them were good, and some of them have been bad. The community is currently facing some of those gut-check moments that will test us and our actions will define which path we continue along. Our moment can be defined as the acceptance of the status quo with little to no regard for change, or by reassessment of our priorities and goals. Sometimes the best path forward involves letting go of the practices that no longer serve us. Dissolving old attitudes, habits and beliefs means that we will once again be like a phoenix rising. This is one of those defining moments akin to a rite of passage into a new era of success. It’s healthy to sometimes fear the unknown, but embracing opportunity with vision makes us good stewards. We hold benevolent dominion over future generations. Character still matters and community still means everything. Together, we forge our collective identity and shape our destiny.
It will take a lot of work, but the payoff will reap big dividends now and into the next generation. What will your defining moment be? Will you cave under the weight of adversity, or will you help turn things around to make adversity work for you?