Stop hoping for that “One Defining Moment”
“If it would only take one word, perhaps one wise phrase to make us change, heaven would be easy to reach, here on earth.”**
How often have we heard the story that every transformational book, every life-coach loves to tell? That one moment when something clicked and everything changed. The lightning flash of enlightenment that comes from reading a phrase, a sudden revelation while in a state of crisis, or an epiphany in the midst of some everyday activity. And this defined THE moment when they were on the path that lead to success, and the realisation of dreams.
Everyone loves a miracle. I’ve done my share of chasing after them, listening to those lectures, reading those books, waiting for it to happen to me.
But wherever I look, there I am – and where are the miracles that just don’t seem to be happening?
But the real truth is that I’m sitting in the midst of continual miracle making – an aggregation of moments.
There is no single defining moment – we are actually in the midst of making miracles all the time.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had revelations that changed my world. Eye-opening or gob-smacking or rapturous moments.
But what followed on from there? It wasn’t that everything suddenly got easier. It wasn’t that one decision, one insight changed everything else. Did that mean I was some kind of idiot who just didn’t get it???
The truth is, these stories of Defining Moments are simply a dramatic device. It’s the archetypal hero’s adventure.
Everyone loves a hero, or wants to be one. Hollywood and transformational coaches have taken up where myth-telling round the fire left off.
A sudden message or a stroke of synchronous luck, that culminates in a turning point from which you (the hero of the tale) never look back but surge ever onwards, no longer daunted, or taunted by demons.
This is the story transformational coaches love to tell, standing on stages in front of hundreds. I’ve fallen for this stuff, dreamed of having such a transformative experience, the moment that makes all the difference.
When I recognised they’re just retelling the ‘hero’s journey’ it became clear that it’s all just ‘backtelling’. Telling the story with the hindsight that helps us pick through the plethora of our lives and pluck out The One Defining Moment.
The key. The singular revelation that has made all the difference.
‘From that point on I stared success in the eye, and I became a winner.’
When I look back at my life for that crux point, I can’t pick just one. Does that mean I haven’t had a big enough revelation?
Instead what I see is a collection of revelatory ideas, experiences, feelings – small, almost insignificant, large and loud – all of them building on what’s gone before, and each slightly morphing and reshaping the others as I go along. Outside that reality trick that tells us time flows in a straight line, how can I untangle these moments from each other?
It’s not that One Thing breaks through, it’s that I never could have known or experienced ‘this’ if I hadn’t known or experienced ‘that’.
Let’s be clear that this story of the One Defining Moment is just a myth.
Which is not to say it’s untrue. It is simply the format of an archetypal story that snatches our imagination and carries us along on a wave of entheos – all infused with divine hope.
The reality is much more prosaic. It’s an accumulation of wisdom, an aggregate of revelations each building on what already exists. We don’t need to have that old-testament-style blinding flash so we finally wake up to our own wisdom and divine guidance.
If you haven’t had that One yet, it’s OK. You still know where you’re going, you’re still being guided. You’re not forsaken. Even your current crap-storm is not something working against you. You don’t have to solve a series of life issues and problems in order to be more ‘ready’ for the One Defining Moment.
This One Defining moment of the hero’s journey is simply an effective symbol of the overcoming of fear. But the overcoming doesn’t happen in the instant.
Maybe it’s true for some people that their fear is overcome in a flash, just as the Archangel Michael slays the Dragon.
Let me know in the comments if that’s the case for you…
I reckon the act of ‘slaying the demons’, however inspiring the story, isn’t the moment when everything changes.
For the vast majority of us it’s incremental steps, it’s recognition put into practice, evaluated and tweaked and practiced again.
One step after another. It’s the ‘chop wood, carry water’.
It just doesn’t make inspiring copy.
Don’t fall for the rhetoric that you need that Moment. In the midst of preparing ourselves for that One we’re not seeing the aggregate of moments, all those minor revelations and miracles which bless – and direct – our life every day.
We simply have to look for them in the dross. Because there’s not One Moment, there’s many.
(**these are the opening words of a song by my gorgeous and wise husband… who like you is a channel helping others recognise they are also channels.)