Defining moments are a universal experience – we’ve all had them: the first day of school, the day you lose your virginity, graduation day, finding your first grey hair etc. Not all of those will apply to all of us, but you know what I mean.
There are certain events that occur in life that we remember. Vividly. Some of those events stay with us forever: usually, it’s the highly emotional ones. Because emotions make feelings stronger – they heighten your experience. A dull day becomes a technicolour memory whenever high levels of emotion are involved.
It’s easy to get caught up in the emotional side of things which is why I want to talk about my most vivid defining moment. It happened 25 years ago…
There we were, driving on a cold December night on our way to collect my friend Dawn who would be coming out with us to the Angel pub for some pre-Christmas jolliment. We weren’t going to drive to the pub – drink driving wasn’t our style. No, we (Steve, my boyfriend, and I) were collecting Dawn, heading back to my house 5 minutes away, and then my mum was going to drop us at the Angel and head out with my dad for their Friday night at a workman’s club.
Only things didn’t quite pan out that way.
Steve, Dawn and I never made it back to my house that night. What happened instead was horrific and I’ll never forget it. Talk about defining moments. This is still my biggest and most vivid.
I still remember what Dawn and I were talking about the split second before I looked out the windscreen and saw a truck heading towards us. “Watch out for that lorry,” I said.
And then everything went black.
The taste of that moment still haunts me, in the sense that I can still clearly recollect it. Whenever I hear two cars collide, no matter how big or small the ding, I get that taste, the metallic taste of blood and broken glass. For me, that sound is a multi-sensory experience: I taste the sound. That’s what heightened emotions can do to you.
I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess that the criss-cross of sensory input occurs for many (if not all) of us when we experience a defining moment. And the more heightened the experience, the more the crossover occurs. For example, I’d bet that for most people their wedding day or the birth of their first child is one of those times. A time when everything is happening at once and, to put it bluntly, a time when you don’t know if you’re going for a shit or a haircut. Everything is crystal clear and a blur all at the same time.
So, that night, 8 December, 1989 is my most vivid. The crash occurred in a fractured moment, but that entire day is still so clear to me. Not to mention the ensuing months, although they have become somewhat foggier over time.
But why am telling you all this?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, other than having reached the 25-year mark and because I feel a sense of reaching a new moment. One that I can choose to define rather than have etched into my cells simply through happenstance.
A story such as this has many arms that branch out in a vast array of directions. But I’m not going to go into any more details just now.
However, I do feel a great urge to tell my story. Not just this one, but many of my life’s moments. And not because I love talking about myself but because it helps me understand who I am when I write things down. And I enjoy phrasing my feelings in a way that other people seem to relate to and benefit from.
When I started this blog I had no idea where it was going. I played around with a few ideas and my writing took a few twists and turns that I enjoyed observing as much as partaking in.
I tried writing about life coaching but I gotta tell you, that idea ran out of steam pretty quick. I can’t make it about anything other than the simple events of my life.
The experience of having my entire world pulled from under me at the age of 18 was by far the worst and the best thing that has ever happened to me. That defining night laid a foundation for the person I am today. It gave me an opportunity to know how strong I am. It gave me a platform on which I can lay every other experience and know that it will never come close to being in the accident and emergency ward, knowing my best friend is no longer alive and that my boyfriend is in a coma. My best friend Dawn did not survive the crash and my first love was in a coma for a number of weeks.
That moment and the moments, days and months that followed, gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for: knowing that life is a miracle.
If ever I need to look for an answer as to why something is happening or if I find myself wondering will this work out ok? All I have to do is remember that night 25 years ago when I was given a second chance at life. Because as soon as I recall the miracle that is my life, I know that whatever happens today doesn’t matter. Not in the sense that it is insignificant, but because life is life and ultimately I have no control over it. Just like I have no control over whether you like this blog or not: and that doesn’t matter either.
I write because I love to write. And I write about my personal experiences because that feels right to me. And easy. And fun.
Even when I’m writing about the most traumatic night of my life.
One day I will write about the details of that night and all the events that followed, because they are incredibly interesting and shine a light on human behaviour: the good, the warped and the ugly.
But for now, I just needed to give myself permission to do what I love: to write for the pure reason that it feels good.
I’m theming 2015 the year of miracles, which seems fitting to me. What theme will you give your year? What vibe will you choose? Whatever it is, I invite you to make this year one that is filled with defining moments of your choice. Make this a year that really means something to you. Choose uplifting emotions and really focus on the good stuff.
Bad stuff is OK – shit happens – and defining moments don't have to start out joyful, but it is possible to make every moment meaningfulin a useful and worthy way. No matter how bad they seem at the time.
If you can, I really encourage you to spend some time considering how you’d most like to feel during 2015. I'm focusing on seeing miracles so I'm going to heighten those feelings and emotions even when nothing's happening. Maybe you can do the same with your theme?
Because, ultimately, we never know if this moment might be our last.
With love x