According to the dictionary, “life-changing” means something that alters a person’s life or circumstances in a substantial way. Examples are rampant on the internet and include events that are both happy and sad and which are often associated with milestones in a person’s life. Events that make the list are graduation, marriage, birth of a child, getting your first professional job, retirement, significant illness or injury, and death of a loved one.
These types of milestones are certainly life altering, but often we don’t realize that we’ve experienced a life-changing moment until some time has passed. Sometimes, it’s much later when we realize that a specific encounter, event, or seemingly random occurrence was, in fact, something that altered the path of our life.
When I was a senior in high school, I had a favorite teacher. I had her for three classes and she was a huge influence on me. Near the end of the year, I had the chance to chat with her about college and she remarked that if she had to do it over again, she would have majored in speech therapy.
Naturally, I declared speech therapy as my major. Six years later, I had a master’s degree in speech and language pathology and was on my way to a career working with people with disabilities. About a year after I embarked my profession, I ran into Ms. St. Clair at a picnic back in my home town. I proudly told her I had taken her advice and majored in speech pathology. She looked at me in confusion and said, “Oh, I didn’t say speech therapy. I said physical therapy.”
As it turned out, speech therapy was fabulous choice for me in many, many ways. Whether she misspoke or I misunderstood, that brief conversation was certainly a life-shaping moment for me.
A few years later, I was out with a group of friends for an evening. I lived in Dayton at the time, and we went to a restaurant in Troy that had a group playing live music. That evening we were joined by three new people. Shaking hands with the young teacher with blue eyes and a great smile was a life-changing moment, even though I didn’t know it yet. Five years later, he would become my husband.
Over a year ago, Matt and I were asked to fill in for an instructor at a local university for one term. We thought it would be an adventure to teach college students as a team. We just agreed to teach our sixth and seventh courses next fall. That one phone call in 2016 turned out to be quite life-changing.
The past couple of weeks we’ve been cleaning, taping, and painting in our little house remodel. There have been many years when this activity would not be life altering, but this year, my knees are saying it might alter something. Time will tell.
Have you had life-changing moments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. She keeps busy taking care of husband, house, and pets. She and her husband have an adult son who lives in Troy.