Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

They come at us without warning. They are moments that change us instantaneously and forever. Thank goodness most of us don’t get too many of them in a lifetime, but they happen to us all.

We all have troubles in life. Many of them are big enough to rise above the background noise of irritating nuisances and really make us mad, or sad. Sometimes we can feel as if we’re caught in a tidal wave of them, and there’s no end in sight. One thing after another until we find ourselves wondering, “What next?”

But those are the familiar hassles of life, things breaking down, people getting sick, a kid who takes the term “spring break” literally and puts himself in the ER two years running with a broken arm and the the third year with a dislocated knee until you’re making jokes about it.

However annoying and upsetting such things may be, they don’t reach the level I’m talking about here.

Sooner or later we all experience it. Life side-swipes us in an instant with something so big, so unexpected, that we never imagined it happening to us. In an eyeblink, the landscape of life changes forever.

And we change, too. Forever. The moment is forever printed on our memories in excruciating detail. We know in that instant that we will never be the same again. Never.

And nothing will ever look the same again. We have been permanently and instantly rocked in a way we’ll never forget.

I imagine many of the tornado survivors in Tuscaloosa, Joplin and other towns must feel that way. I’m sure the earthquake and tsunami survivors in Japan and Indonesia will never see anything the same way again.

A fundamental shift occurs, and it occurs in an eyeblink of time. One second we lived in one world. The next we exist in a different world.

Depending on the experience, many of us have to claw our way back to some sense of safety and order in the universe. Many of us may never be able to do so entirely. These are the things that strip away our most important illusions, the illusions that make it possible to get up every day and face all of life’s other problems. These are the things that can steal our security in such a way that we will never again be the person we were before.

These are the experiences that will always be: Before and After. Great big markers in our psyche.

In the aftermath, we have to pick up the pieces and put ourselves together again in some new form that holds that shock in our worldview.

These are the events that turn us into survivors.


Reader Comments Welcome.