I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Life-altering Moments

Many of the most life-altering decisions I've made have occurred during mundane circumstances. I decided to quit college in 1985 while talking on the phone with a friend one day. I decided to move one time while I was at a church picnic. I came up with a new book idea in the shower a couple of mornings ago. I've even made decisions in mid-sentence while talking to somebody.

Of course, decisions or realizations rarely happen quickly. They are the culmination of a bunch of little facts and observations that all snowball toward that one minute when the last piece of information locks itself into your mind, and then you just know.

Yesterday, I read a scene from a novel called A Window Across the River by Brian Morton that captured this process beautifully. The novel is about a photographer named Isaac who feels that life and the photography industry is passing him by and there's not much he can do to stop either one. In this particular scene, Isaac is talking to one of his former photography students named Renee. She's just landed a deal with The New Yorker to publish three of her photos—the same magazine that Isaac has wanted to be published in for a long time. Listen to his thought process:

"When he was in his late twenties, two of his photographs were acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and when he told one of his former teachers the good news, the old man had said, 'Yes, they've been after me to send them some things, but I've been too busy.' At the time Isaac hadn't understood that the old man had no class, that his response had emerged from a stew of peevish envy. He understood it now. And he understood that if he gave Renee anything less than a generous response, it would condemn him, condemn him as a small-souled man, and that a generous response, even if it wasn't sincere, would be enough."

A couple of lines later, right in the middle of their conversation, Isaac came to this realization: "The next generation was making its claim, and he hadn't tried to obstruct it. He felt obscurely that this was one of the defining moments of his life."

And he was right.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...