Sunday, August 1, 2010

It only takes a moment to change your life.

This morning over coffee with family someone said it takes only a moment to change someone's life. The content of the comment was made during a discussion on how quickly a young person can go from an adolesent to an adult based on a single experience. Although I was quick to agree with the comment simply based on a common sense reaction, I later tried to recall my own one minute of life changing moment. Within a few minutes I nailed it.

Several years ago a cousin was murder on the street where I spent most of my childhood. He was my role model, my protector, and everything I envisioned a brave and proud man represented. At the time of his death I was in my early twentys. This was in the early to mid 1970's when I lived in a small town in Orange County working for an electronic factory. Three years earlier I left East Los Angeles to escape years of street violence, drugs, gangs, and boredom. I thought in the process I may find the purpose of life because I thought life had to be more than simply surviving to the next day. Then one day while visiting family I received a phone call that my cousin was being taken to the County Hospital.

When minutes I arrived at the hospital to find my cousin in post-op and heard the nurse say he would die at any second. I walked into the room alone (although I was with my father but he did not want to walk into the room) and I immediately saw my cousin on a bed with his head wapped in bandages. I later learned that his head had been savagely beaten open with a metal object. As I stood by the bed staring at my cousin a nurse suggested I touch his body before he died, which I did. Immediately upon placing my hand on his chest I felt a fast flow of energy go up my arm and into my chest. At the same moment my cousin passed-away. I quicklly turned to the nurse who had suggested I touch my cousin but he was no way to be seen.

It was at that moment that my life changed forever. I immediately became convinced that I had to commit my life to something greater than myself and to help my community and this world a better place to live. Within weeks I had quit my job, sold all my belongings and enrolled in college with the determination of becoming an attorney. Within a few months I became very active in the struggle to bring about social and economic change for working people, which I am still doing today as a labor law attorney representing some of the most progessive and creative unions in Los Angeles. Yes at that moment my life changed forever.

So, I ask you this question. What was your life changing moment?

6 comments:

victor said...

I have always said that we travel a very delicate line between good and bad, right and wrong. The time I had a fight with my brother and kicked him in the face, made me realize that an animal exist in all of us. That it was very important to control it.

Bea said...

I think for me it has been a series of moments that have helped me become the person I am. When I stood up to my abuser at the age of 15, when I decided to join the military at the age of 19, when I took on the doctors for my sons sake at the age of 27, when I left a loveless marriage at the age of 32, when I decided to stand with the workers at the age of 34 and when I decided to be a good daughter to a dying father despite my pain and anger at the age of 38.

alderete said...

That is very moving and thanks for being so honest.

Anonymous said...

Turning points… Aha moment…
*When I was 11 years old, my Uncle who lived in the province was killed by his neighbor, the issue, water. They were fighting over water rights for the rice fields. I vaguely remember how my mom and cousins were in shock and grief. To this day my cousin Paz does not even want anyone to mention the incident. My cousins (13) have lead good lives. Adversity makes or breaks a person. Unlike you Steve, I never saw my Uncle at the time of his death - he was violently killed by a machete. Don’t know what impact it would have on me if I seen it.
* During my divorce I thought it was the end of the world. With family, friends, and father time – the pain and loss does go away. I have made it and life is good. Really, really good.
* Found a lump on my breast of all places in the ladies sauna room at 24 hour fitness. My sister was with me at the time, we had just finished working out. I called my doctor and a mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy was scheduled within a week. I did a lot of praying, made promises to God. It turned out to be a fluid filled cyst. Did not keep my side of the bargain, but God has kept his.
Did a lot of reading about breast cancer, read about so many young women who did not make it. Breast cancer is such a horrendous illness. My coworker has been free of breast cancer and she confided in me not to take estrogen when menopause comes knocking.
Be honest, work hard, and appreciate.

michael y. said...

Hey Steve, sometimes we all get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget what we had learned in the past. Economic times are getting rougher and rougher for everyone, I see it in my practice. The banks and Wall Street continue to make money and more people are getting laid off jobs. I believe the stock market is being manipulated, we invest, then it collapses, they make more money. Like you I could go on and on but not enough space. I think the economy is headed for drastic change, but like you said the poor always suffer most. Keep on writing.

Anonymous said...

Just spent some time with you this weekend. It was fantastic. No issues to deal with, no problems, no worries. Told you I had been reading your blog. You said you were giving it up. Why would you do that? Opening up is difficult for all of us. I see that this helps.