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Defining moment

A defining moment for me occurred in Mrs. Wilson’s English class in Grade 10/10th grade, at S- High School in T-. A defining moment, to me, is when a paradigm that is representative of my life changes, and with it some notions are destroyed and possibly replaced by new ones. It’s when you learn that what you thought is – isn’t.

I watched a lot of movies when I was younger. Partly due to that, and partly due just to my nature, I had a very romantic view of life in my earlier years. Looking back now, it never did any good for me. The biggest thing I remember about that way of thinking is having immense expectations of life as well as of others, and then seeing them all be crushed as time unfolded, which left me with a broken spirit every time.

I had seen one of the more popular students, Steve I believe was his name, interacting with his popular friends since we shared many classes. On a certain occasion, I saw him pat one of his friends on the back and say, with great enthusiasm, “That a boy!” For me that was a defining moment. It strengthened my belief that life could be – that life is – like the movies. That amid all the chaos of humanity there is never an instant when someone somewhere is not acting out a script of his own, making use of the smooth dialog and suave retorts we love and we’ve come to expect from movies. What I didn’t realize then was the unromantic atmosphere in which those lines are actually thought up by a person who bears absolutely no resemblance to the person who delivers them on screen. I didn’t consider the time it takes that same writer to think up those words which the actor speaks and which leave a lasting impression on our minds. I didn’t consider the agony of drafting and the revisions that might have taken place behind “That’s right. I AM dangerous,” the classic line by Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

Although this particular defining moment didn’t permanently deter me from this view of life, it helped me to see the truth for one day. On a particular afternoon, Steve was again conversing with his friends in English class. Except on this occasion I heard him say to one friend about another, “I gotta go give him a ‘That a boy!’ and pat him on the back!” THAT was a defining moment. The belief that was affirmed by that phrase earlier was instantly shattered by its naked and unfiltered use in this statement. It was a tool, a tool which he used whenever and however he chose to express a specific set of his own convictions to his friends. What was he thinking when he reduced it to something to use in spite of itself? In my mind then it was as grave an offense as a man reducing his wife to a sexual object – an object with which he can do as he wishes without concern for morality – in front of his friends.

The defining moment for me was when I acknowledged to myself that life isn’t like a movie. If anything, it’s like a live broadcast on HBO: uncut, uncensored, planned but never certain. It didn’t see it at the time, and even kept my former attitude for several years to come, but that incident carried for me a life-changing lesson.

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