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The Turning Point Long Ago
When you think of life’s turning points, does your mind automatically go to a celebratory or painful reference? When I think of huge life changing turning points, I realize that there are only a few that I remember daily. Sure, there are oodles of smaller turning points & they are valuable yet today my mind is going to the place where the humungous turning points have happened. Beyond that, there is one mega turning point in my life that changed my life forever & I am thankful for this every single day.
With this mega turning point that I am sharing with you, it presented itself in the form of as Robert Frost so beautifully says in his famous poem as “two paths.” There were 2 choices before me & one path required that I soul search, seek wise guidance and stretch my thinking. The other path required very little of me. Have you found yourself on these major forks in the road at times too? Can you think of one turning point in your life that changed the course of your life? Was the situation that presented these paths to you of a negative or positive nature? In my mind good can sometimes come out of bad situations & bad can come out of good situations & all the other combinations & permutations. Life is full of choices & I personally love that.
Often when I think about life I think of it in terms of it being a collective work of art. We may want to be wise about who & what we allow to be written in our life’s story. We cannot always control who we share time with all the time or what we allow into our minds continuously however during the times & opportunities available to us, do we opt for the path of least resistance or the one that takes greater effort? We each answer that question for ourselves. And the answer is not black & white either since sometimes we opt for one path & other times for the other. I know that I am only human & sometimes I choose the wrong path yet thankfully I look back & see that the wrong path choices have been in the realm of the smaller “stuff.” The big “stuff” has received big consideration. I find the decisions about big “stuff” to be easier to make because I realize from experience that my life journey will follow a certain windy path as a result of those decisions. The other thing is that for the really huge choices, I still seek wise counsel to test my thoughts, stretch my thinking & ensure that I am on the right track. The wise counsel comes in a variety of sources including: time spent in reflection to air out my thoughts, reading a reliable & valid book and or discussing the situation with someone who is a wise & worthy mentor who has my best interests at heart.
I would love to share the hugest turning point of my life with you. This is the one that literally changed my life for the rest of my life. The best part is that it came early on enough in my life to become a lifelong compass & treasure. When I was 20 years old & in second year university, the turning point happened. At that point I confess that I did not see it as the gift that it truly is. Why? It is because it came in the form of a gut wrenching situation. When I was 19 years old & made my application to university & thought that I had it all figured out about my career path, I did not see the next year’s situation coming that’s for sure. At 19 years old, I visualized my career in probation & parole & it was etched in stone in my mind. In first & second year university I did several practicums with the probation office & found it to be fascinating. I was forever reading criminology books & building a community of people that I sought guidance from in the field. I was already building my resume in my field long before graduation very naturally (with help). In my mind, I had figured out where I would be living & that I would have the life that I pictured when I was 19 years old. Life has a funny way of changing things & in my case for the better. I did not end up continuing in the career that I had all figured out nor in the city that I was convinced that I would live in.
In second year university, I loaded up on criminology courses within my sociology major. There was one professor in particular who was especially enthusiastic about teaching his criminology courses & you had to sign up early for his courses because the students in our program soon learned that this professor really gave mind blowing lectures. No one dozed off in his classes & the rate of absenteeism was the lowest on campus by far. During second semester, this professor told us that we were going to see some real forensic police investigation photos from several grizzly crime scenes. When the photos were shown on a huge screen in the lecture hall I found myself involuntarily having a combination wrenching sensation combined with a flood of tears come down my face. All that went through my mind like a recording was, “these are somebody’s daughters & sons in these photos.” It was heartbreaking. It still is. It was beyond sobering or any other word in the English language. It did not take me long at all to realize that my plans for my career path were meeting up with a fork in the road. I had to ask myself if I could “suck it up princess” & continue on in my chosen field of criminology or if I was going to make another choice for my career future. My brain kept telling me that I had already chosen my career path & that I needed to stay the course. My heart & gut told me something completely different. It was a humbling time as well in that I found myself facing that I did not have the answers & that sometimes life throws a curve ball even with the best thought out plans. I also knew that all of this was not the end of the world. I certainly knew that I would somehow end up in the counseling field no matter what happened along the way so it was not like I was leaping from one completely different discipline to a polar opposite one. And the thing was, even if that was the case, again, it soon became evident that the sky was not falling.
The photos as I mentioned were sickening. Do I wish I could somehow have “unseen” them? At the time, I would have answered a resounding, “yes!” It did not take too many years however to realize that something so gut wrenching had been a turning point in my life. It was not a big turning point as far as my career path was concerned. It was a turning point in my thinking & my connection with my soul. If that sounds dramatic, I don’t mean for it to. It is just beyond huge & pretty difficult for words to describe fully. I could not sleep at night after seeing the photos & could not stop thinking about these lost innocent sons & daughters. My now husband (then boyfriend) had a close friend that had worked in a prison in the counseling field with violent offenders. It did not take me long to realize that was the person that I needed to seek wise guidance from. This friend, Keith, gave me a very compassionate smile, and suggested a few books. He told me however to start with a book by Viktor Frankl called, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He advised me to run out & get it either from the library or the bookstore & read it right away. He told me that it would make a difference. He made sure that I knew that after I read the book that he would be there for me to talk to if needed. Then he gave me a look that puzzled me. What was that look I wondered. The “look” I came to realize was one of knowledge that after reading this book that I would not need to talk to him because I would “get it” if I let myself “get it.” Keith had faith that I would “get it.” I miss Keith. He was a dear friend for many, many years. He was taken far too soon yet he remains with me always along with my original & very dog-earred copy of “Man’s Search for Meaning.” This is a book that every single time I have picked it up has set me back onto the path for me again…every single time. It was a turning point reading the book for the first time because I quickly realized that we have free will to choose. When we choose “good”, then ripples of this choice enter the world & the opposite of this is true when “bad” choices are sent out into the world. And I learned that through Viktor Frankl’s book that we have choice in every situation, that the will to choose is with us in celebration & in struggle. That is great news because it means to me that even when life is not going the way I had hoped that I realize that I am so much more than my body & that I can choose my attitude. I get to choose an attitude of a warrior vs a victim no matter what. I love that. And in the book, meaning is described in a way that I cannot do it justice. When struggles have meaning, that changes everything in my mind. When struggles just seem to be out there floating with no reason, it steals hope. No body steals my hope & my heart’s hope for you is that nobody steals your hope either.
When type 1 diabetes reared its beastly head 6 years ago to live in my life & the life of my family, I looked at the diagnoses through the book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” The book again had me nodding as again it gave the answer for that struggle too. And I also realized that type 1 diabetes was not anywhere even approaching a turning point in my life. It was just on the path or journey of my life. Like you, I did not see it coming & had no way of preventing it from coming. In some ways I was ready for it way in advance though. Thank-you Keith & thank-you big time Viktor Frankl. When I put on my reading glasses, I see the words on the page clearer. When I put on the lens that I see my life choices through, I wear the lens outlined in “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
My heart’s hope for you is that whether what appears to be a negative or positive huge turning point happens in your life that you receive the gift of a lens that brings meaning to the rest of your life. Smiles, Saundie :)
May every struggle strengthen you & next week's sharing is "One Tired Bear Climbing Each Mountain." :)