Thursday, March 28, 2013

Turning Points - A Writing Prompt

When we write our stories, we are inevitably compelled to write about turning points in our lives. Those "Aha!" moments lead to a new path, an expected journey, to becoming more whole.

The job of the writer is to understand these "turning point" events in all their multi-faceted dimension ... and put them into context in the larger picture of a life, a destiny, a legacy.

As I ponder Easter Sunday, it brings to mind a major turning point in my life ... becoming a single mother.

My sons stood on the deck against a gray Easter Sunday sky.  Alex crooked a hand in his pants' pocket, his hair slicked back from too much gel ... the inevitable result of getting ready for church. Daniel, wearing his father's navy blue necktie, had tried to knot a tie, no easy task without a dad to teach him.   

Between them, putting on a brave front for their daughter, stood Mother in crimson coat; Dad in a brown felt hat bought on the trip of a lifetime to  Switzerland.  

As I held the camera, I saw my own world unfold through the lens of time.  I wore a denim suit with huge padded shoulders, and black leather pumps ... and cherished a hope that somehow I could make that first Easter as a single mother all right.  No longer the 21-year-old girl who thought only of herself and her own pleasures ... no longer the impetuous wife passionately in love with her husband. I had become a person who rose at 6 a.m. to place quarters, dimes and licorice-flavored jelly beans inside purple, yellow and green plastic eggs. 

Tiptoeing so as not to wake her children, this woman hid the eggs behind the flower-covered sofa, under the pink velvet armchair, inside the piano bench, on a windowsill behind a gauzy white curtain. A tradition she had experienced as a child, the Easter egg hunt conjured magic, surprise, unexpected gifts and with it a mother's love  to carry forth the joy of Easter,  its renewal ... that even death cannot destroy.  

Why writing about a turning point is a revelatory experience:
  • It is a growth experience.
  • It leads us one step closer to learning who we are and who we are becoming.
  • Sometimes turning points are stumbling blocks that lead to greater awareness.
  • It leads to becoming a different person.
  • It puts us in touch with our feelings.
  • It helps us move beyond ourselves and reach out to others.

What was a major turning point in your life?  Can you craft a memory or scene from it? 

At what point did your life change course, affecting everything that would come after? Have you, or are you, writing about turning points and what have you learned?

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