The moment our father’s sperm pierces our mother’s egg and forms a zygote, we’re in for the lifetime of changes that will make us who we are. There is nothing so certain, transformative, or unpredictable as change. We might cast spells to resist it or attempt to chant it into essence more quickly, but we can almost never foretell the future until we reflect on the outcome many years later. Until we think about what might have happened had the change not taken place. History books swell with facts and theories about the big events that shaped the centuries and defined world cultures. The deaths of great men and women whose names and deeds everyone knows; the establishment of international organizations to promote peace; wars and revolutions that destroy generations of children for the future of others; the passing of federal acts, laws, and amendments to balance national justice; the pacts that create new nations out of old colonies – each of us knows these stories in personal ways. We know where we stood when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon and our dreams exploded into space; when Hurricane Andrew landed in New Orleans and drowned so many innocents; when terrorists flew stolen planes into the Twin Towers and flouted American principles of freedom; and when a small town in Japan called Fukushima suffered a tsunami and threatened the safety of the world with leaking radiation.
Following are the intimate moments that took my breath away, that made me fall on my knees and forced my fist to my mouth, stifling huzzahs or shrieks. These are the extraordinary changes that marked and shaped my life. (more…)