Defining Moments

Joan - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on July 29, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

One day I was in a local restaurant for lunch, grading papers, working intently when an older man came in, ragged and hot. He appeared homeless but not dirty, but I really did not pay much attention. I think he asked for food and water, but I am not sure. I did notice that as he spoke to the server, she began to get angrier finally pointing to the door, telling to leave, threatening to call the police. Soft-spoken and polite, he seemed to pose no threat. He made no scene. Looking sad, he left the restaurant.

Something prompted me to buy him lunch, so I followed him out. However, when I reached the street, he had vanished. Was it a divine visitation? I believe it was. I think maybe the server lost a defining moment. She had the opportunity to look beyond his ragged clothes and penniless predicament and give him something to eat even when it was hard for her to do. I was saddened by that woman’s lost moment.

I know not everyone can get a free ride every time. But, sometimes when I stand still and let my heart speak, I know when giving is right. I know. Defining moments come along all the time and I believe I cannot let a defining moment slip through my fingers like water.

I have experienced ‘defining moments’ often in my life – when I must do the right thing even when it is hard to do. I took care of my dad when he was dying although he had horribly abused me as a child, forcing the family to live in terror. I often had to hide bruises and shielded my mother from his blows. The traumas have defined me in so many ways. He remained abusive up to his last lucid moment. I could have refused to help him. No one would have blamed me. Nevertheless, I still cared for him as he got sicker and sicker. I think it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was my gift to him.

When I give a friend a gift, I know it is hers to use as she wants. So If I give someone money or food, I need to let it be my gift – no strings. It is less about what the person does with the gift and more about how I give it and that I give at all. If I place my expectations on it, I may not give and lose so many opportunities, missing those defining moments that help me grow as a human. So now I when I give, I then let it go. Let it be. Then and only then can I understand the full meaning of a defining moment.