When I was little I read Helen Keller’s story.
I was in awe that she accomplished so much in life despite all the odds working against her.
My favorite part of the book was the moment that changed her life.
Her governess had been tracing words in the palm of her hand for months to try to teach her the names of things around her. Then one day she plunged the little girl’s hand under a stream of water.
In that split second Helen finally understood.
The world went from being senseless and confusing to full of life and possibilities.
She could learn and communicate. She wasn’t doomed to a life of silence and loneliness.
She went on to be the first blind and deaf person to complete a Bachelor of Arts. At Harvard nonetheless. She also wrote many books and gave conferences all over the world.
Few of us have defining moments as powerful as Helen Keller’s but we all have small and less small moments that change the course of our lives.
The kinds of moments that separate our lives into a before and after.
As a writer I have always been fascinated with those events that shape us.
We come across things that come to change the course of our lives.
Events that change what we believe in and how we see our place in the world.
We don’t recognize those moments as defining while they’re happening. It’s only when we look back that we see the full extent of their impact on us.
When we try to make sense out of our present lives, we reminisce on what led us to where we are.
The only way we can define ourselves is through our stories.
It is not really what happens to us that changes us but the stories we tell ourselves.
As 2016 comes to an end we are left to reflect on the moments that changed us this year.
Now is the time where we create the narrative that is going to permeate into the new year and into our core being.
Think of Helen Keller and her Aha! moment. Was it the moment itself that changed everything or the meaning she derived from it?
Maybe it’s the writer in me but I tend to believe we are masters of our fate.
Because the story we tell ourselves is what truly defines us.