A Turning Point Moment

Approximately twelve years ago (not to the day), I was celebrating my birthday with a family dinner at my parents’ house. It was a delicious dinner and my whole immediate family was there. It wasn’t a milestone birthday or anything, but it was a particularly memorable and happy birthday

Life was really good. After a period of unemployment, I had recently started a job in the field I work in today and it felt like perfect fit. I loved my job and my industry. My salary was enough to cover expenses and discretionary spending (it helped that I was living at my parents’ home at the time, but I was planning to move to my own place, and I could afford it). I felt rich. My family was all here, happy and healthy. The weather was perfect and the sky was clear. I remember at one point looking up at the sky that night, and feeling this sense of perfect happiness and contentment. Life was just so blissfully wonderful at that moment. There was no reason to feel like it wouldn’t continue to keep getting better.

The sky didn’t actually look like this, but I picked this stock photo because I feel like it captures how wonderful I felt. Photo by Kammeran Gonzalez-Keola from Pexels

A few days later, it was my Jewish Calendar birthday. I had only just learned the date of my Jewish Calendar birthday and the custom of giving blessings to others on one’s Jewish Calendar birthday (it is considered an auspicious time to give blessings) the year before, and I was pretty into it. I had given blessings to everyone in the house who was awake before I left for work that morning; it felt good. My good mood carried into the work day. Also, I really loved my job. I was still on the Birthday Season High feeling.

Sibling #1 called me that afternoon, sounding very upset. I racked my brain to figure it out. I had called Sibling #1 to give them their birthday blessing earlier, because Sibling #1 was asleep before I left for work, so it probably wasn’t jealousy or something. I had planned to buy Sibling #1 an item from a store nearby work during lunch break and it turned out to be out of stock. That must be it, I thought. Sibling #1 must be upset about the item. I was about to reassure Sibling #1 that I’d be willing to try again another day to get the item when Sibling #1 spoke.

“Grandpa died,” said Sibling #1.

I was stunned. Despite his age, it was completely unexpected news. My grandfather didn’t have the healthiest lifestyle, but he was active, happy, making plans. He literally had tickets for plans with my grandmother for the following week. No one saw this coming.

The reason I’m thinking of this memory was unrelated to the immediate aftermath of my grandfather’s death, although there are certainly interesting stories to tell on that front. It’s more that the vivid memory of perfect happiness and trust in the future that I felt that night of my birthday dinner feels crystallized to me.

Don’t get the wrong idea: I have felt moments of perfect sheer bliss since. Many moments that were even more awesome. Life did get better for me in many ways. I’ve had more than my fair share of blessings and good things in life. And it would be a while before I morphed into the awful depressed pessimist that I am today.

But I don’t recall another time, at least not in as vivid detail, when I felt that kind of confidence in the future as I did the night of my birthday that year. That realization that the future would not necessarily continue to be good, that was a turning point of sorts.

***

Written in response to The Turning Point on Pointless Overthinking

32 comments

  1. I’d also mentioned a story in relation to death whilst responding to the original post, without having read this first either.

    Death has a strong tendency to remind us in general that what we have won’t last huh, especially when it’s someone we feel close to. In that respect, I guess I can say it applies both to what we want and don’t want in this life. It’s a reminder to check what my priority is, in case it’d somehow been replaced without my awareness.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have noticed that on those rare days when we feel our connection to the universe is that we miss that connection when it is gone. Sort of like really stretching out one day, feeling nice and loose, but having those muscles retract even tighter shortly thereafter. At least we have some connection to something. Good post.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think we’ve all had moments of strengths and weaknesses. And times when it all seemed so good and well. Then came the dramatic music and the beginning of the struggles. But that too could be considered a type of blessing. It’s not easy to go through hardships but if you’re still here and talking, then you are a fighter in the true sense. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hope I haven’t given the wrong impression – I have not been through enough hardships (or arguably any hardships ) to be considered a fighter in any sense of the word. My grandfather’s death was unexpected, but he lived a long and fulfilling life and I had many good years with him, which was a blessing.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Awww, I’m so sorry about your grandfather!! 😦

    You don’t seem like an awful depressed pessimist to me!! 🙂 You seem nice and fun and happy!! 🙂 I wish you saw yourself that way!! YAY!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I was reading a commentary by Rabbi Simon Schwab based on a passage on Kohelet. He said that when we experience good times, we should be all in, experiencing it to the max. When we experience the not so good times, we should try our best not to focus on it. I still remember coming home from elementary school when my mom told me that my grandma died. I guess there are some things we never forget.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I relate so much to this. Believe it or not, I have considered writing a similar post. My grandmother passed away ten years ago and so many emotions/turning points in my life related to her. Would it be alright if I wrote on this topic as well?

    Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t really recall the last time I had a moment of bliss, maybe my senior year in college when everything I had worked for seemed to be coming to fruition and being rewarded. That was about eleven or twelve years ago. I definitely know what it’s like to get the rugged pulled out from you by life (though usually it’s me doing it to myself). I guess it’s good not to be too happy, because then you don’t have too far to fall.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Try and think of a happy moment as a little gift. Having a gratitude journal did wonders for me. I was a total skeptic, thought it was stupid and lame and hokey and only for people with perfect lives, but it turned my life around in many ways.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I know it sounds like that! I picture a stock photo of a young woman curled up by a window with a cup of tea next to her, writing in a diary with juvenile flower designs on it. I on the other hand use a boring day planner that has enough room for a little paragraph every day. This process isn’t deep or Pinterest worthy. You can literally write something as simple as “I am grateful I changed the toilet paper roll.” I was in a horrible, horrible frame of mind when I was in therapy two years ago, before Covid. Every thought traveled along a toxic rut of negativity, everything poisoned. My turning point was when my therapist pushed me to the point where I found myself trying to explain how I was intrinsically worse than Hitler. Getting out of this mindset required me to change my thoughts, and along with more intensive therapy, I did the gratitude journal. It’s *most* important on the worst days. Finding that one tiny flower in the torrent of shit keeps the ray of hope shining.

          Liked by 1 person

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