I love words (and even spellcheck even more).
The word poignant (thank you spellcheck) means evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret. I was surprised by this definition and then found it also means deeply affecting and touching. The latter is how I identify with the word.
As I navigate this new phase of my journey, I am naturally drawn to deep introspection. I find myself connecting dots I hadn’t seen before, allowing me to gain new insight into my life’s experiences.
As I was walking through Rock City this week, an amazing park just outside of Chattanooga, TN, I was overcome with emotion. I was elated by the sheer knowing that I was not home anymore, that I launched on this experiment, that I left friends and family miles away.
Then as I rounded the corner, I found myself overlooking 7 states. It was breathtaking and expansive. And the only way I could describe it was poignant.
So I began to think of the other times in my life when my breath was taken away; good times, heart-wrenching times, and experiences in between. It’s in these moments that we have the space to see what life looks like on a path that’s different than the one we’re on.
In birth and death, in tragedy, and celebration, we get a glimpse of the alternatives. And sometimes it is but a moment. So how do we make those moments last a second longer, open up a bit wider, show us a little more?
We simply must acknowledge the poignancy of the moment. Taking that pause to see just how meaningful that moment is. In the deepest part of our being, we have a wisdom that is waiting to be heard in that moment.
I remember so vividly the moment I knew I needed to leave my 10-year career in aviation. I was walking on a lunch break after a weekend volunteering at Camp Sunshine*. I had the extreme honor of working with a young man with a brain tumor that session. During that weekend, we shared an experience where he simply got to be a kid in a pool and leave his challenges behind for an hour.
As I was walking back to my office, it was as if I was sucker punched. I doubled over gasping for breath, knowing, simply knowing I couldn’t do it anymore; the grind, the thanklessness of the job, the lack of impact, the absence of heart.
I could have straightened myself up and walked back to the office ignoring that moment, trading poignancy for the “should.” “Should” go back to work, “should” be grateful, “should” tough it out.
Instead, I noticed the pause in that gut-punch and I listened. I allowed myself time and space to explore the meaning of that moment and what could come of it.
It was the greatest gift I could have given myself. Because ultimately, it led to right here and right now. I left my job in aviation and leaped into the unknown world of the healing arts. It changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. It opened up possibilities beyond my wildest dreams.
And all because I noticed and listened and allowed myself to dream into the space that was revealed in that poignant moment.
So I ask you this, when did you experience a poignant moment? And what did you do with it? It’s never too late to explore what can come of moments like these, even if they have long since passed.
Peek back into that window of time and get curious about what could be as a result of that experience. Is it good? Is it life-changing? Is it worth exploring? Listen, and I mean really listen, to the wisdom held in that moment.
Those moments have shaped my life and I have a feeling they have shaped yours, too.
*Camp Sunshine is a camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It’s located in Casco, ME, and I have had the pleasure of volunteering there since 2001. Camp Sunshine is my heart and soul. For more information about their programs, go to www.campsunshine.org.