Is there one moment that changed the trajectory of your life? Or illuminated a truth? Or changed the way you think about something important? Larry Smith, founding editor of Smith Magazine, has collected stories of turning points, epiphanies and revelations from 125 writers and artists. We talk to Smith about the collection, and invite you to share the story of a moment that shifted your life.

‘The Moment’ 9 March,2012forum

Larry Smith, founding editor of Smith Magazine and author of "The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories From 125 Writers and Artists Famous and Obscure"

  • Wallax

    When I saw a video of World Trade Center building 7 collapsing at free-fall speed, I realized immediately that 9/11 was NOT perpetrated by Muslims to any significant extent, because it was clearly a controlled demolition. With a background in engineering I was appalled that I had even fallen for the claims of the government and mainstream media. WTC7 was not hit by any planes nor by major debris, whereas WTC5 and WTC6 both had major debris fall on them from the towers, and yet did not collapse.

  • Ja Metzger

    At age 25, while working on a high voltage supply in a TV-studio color camera, I accidentally grabbed hold of high voltage line (700VDC) while holding on to the metal camera case.  The current through my body resulted with me being thrown backwards away from the camera, my vision going to full black – like a curtain coming down, and a giant pop at the base of my skull.  Managing to stay vertical, but wobbly, I stood still until my consciousness returned – like a curtain going up.  At that moment, I realized that my view of the world had changed entirely.  I was at peace with my former traumatic, chaotic life; everything in my visual view looked new, beautiful, full of life and wonder – I had avalanched (sic) into the present moment.  That life-changing event occurred to me 40 years ago, and to this day, I consider it a blessing.  The negative direction my life was going changed for the good following that event – I am so grateful!

    Mtn. View, CA

  • Bob Fry

    A major event: a kind bureaucrat in a foreign country helped me with my work permit paperwork at a critical moment. Without that help I would not have worked for a year in the country, would not have married my wife from that country, and our lives would have been utterly different…all from a single, simple act of help. Simple acts make a huge difference.

    An epiphany: I was a strong Republican conservative and believed all the conspiracy theories about Bill Clinton. When Ken Starr was given carte blanch, a hundred lawyers and an open account to investigate I thought “finally! this crook will be outed!” Instead, after $50 million dollars and 2 or 3 years, Ken found Clinton lied about sex in the Oval Office…BFD. That made me realize I had believed in lies. Years later I’m a registered independent and hopefully not so naive.

  • Billy davidson

    Hi, I’m Kirsten.
    Hi, I’m Billy.

  • Kt

    A traumatic motor vehicle collision affected the trajectory of my life negatively. I was thrown completely out of control of my own life, my own bodily autonomy, my finances.
    After learning how to walk again I moved from Texas, where it happened, to San Francisco. I started classical violin training at age 6 and had to quit for a few years due to overuse injury at the end of high school. I remember that first time I brought my violin to the jazz sit-in jam on Sunday. Looking back now over this last year, music has helped me in ways I cannot verbalize. Jazz has helped me in every aspect of my life. Many of the feelings and emotion surrounding PTSD, depression, amputation and disfiguring injury are so hard to speak about, but I can express those feelings through music. Playing a solo in which I’m purging horrible, terrifying, invasive bloody thoughts, then having someone tell me how much they love to hear me play… I love it. When I speak about those same feelings in more concrete terms, they often scare people and make them very uncomfortable.
    Playing music again was like singing after an unbearable eternity of not being able to speak.
    I now get recognized around San Francisco at least 4 or 5 times a month as “that violinist” who plays at Embarcadero and the Lower Haight. 

    Music gave me the confidence to go speak at a SF Board of Supervisors hearing, after which my district supervisor appointed me to an advisory board at the SFMTA. As I continue to learn and grow, I look back on that first public comment I offered… My voice was quavering and I couldn’t make eye contact with Supervisors Avalos and Chu.
    Now I confidently sit at CAC meetings and participate fully, even directing comments and concerns directly to the CFO. 

  • Levni Yilmaz

    A few years back in the days before YouTube, I had just started doing a series of dopey short animated films called “Tales Of Mere Existence” which I wasn’t sure what to do with. I had done some short film before, and had all but accepted there was no way to make a living at it. Anyway, I went to an open screening with about 100 people in the audience, and the audience reaction was so overwhelmingly positive I thought “Huh- Maybe I could actually do something with this”.

    When YouTube happened, I started building an online audience, and my total number of views on the series passed 36 Million views last month.

  • Ebradley

    The moment I saw the flashing lights in the rearview mirror!  10 years sober and never been happier!

  • Kate

    I have been abused my father since toddler age, when I was 20, I came to USA for college to get away from him and my mother who did nothing for me but to support his abusive behavior.  Even though I did not like them at all, I still kept my relationship with them, occasionally meeting with them and contacting them.  When my sister was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago, I realized how awful their personalities were by looking at how they reacted to my sister and how they treated my sister who was terminally ill.  After my sister passed away, I decided I was not going to have any more relationship with my parents, and it has been the most freeing experience, not to have something from my past haunt me from time to time. 

  • Tatianah

    For five years I was director of a youth program directed towards Latino gang-involved youth.

    A kid was telling me a story about how the gang-involved ring tone of cell phone started a fight between him and another guy in Macys Men’s Section. I was telling him he could change and he was saying nope, i’m in too deep, and I started reflecting on how he and the police agreed in a way – neither of them thought he could change. In a line of work when you often wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing. In a moment, I realized my role was just to be there like a little light in the dark, a keeper of the hope of change, the source of human dignity. In a way, it’s sad to say, working with at-risk youth is like hospice work. With such limited reources, you’re there just to be a little protest against fatalism. A little moment that reframed my whole job and gave me strength in dark times

  • Lucas Fladzinski

    During a critique in a painting class as a freshman undergraduate, my instructor told me that I was at the threshold of being a talented artist or a failure. He did not mean to harm me with his words, he meant to explain that I was at a very critical juncture in my art career. After hours of staring at my painting and contemplating his words, I was inspired to move beyond painting and follow another passion that I was experimenting with at the time, photography. Five years later, I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Western Michigan University followed by an MFA from UC Davis. This year, I’m celebrating my 8th year as a professional commercial photographer in addition to an emerging fine art career.  ~Lucas Fladzinski

  • Hema Kundargi

    I immigrated from India 25  tyears ago with my husband
    At first we did not know anyone in the community
    after 3 months I came across an Indian couple. I was elated to find somebody from my native country. BUt sadly that couple was not interested in making a conversation  That was the turning point in my life and decided that I will make friends with people irrespective of the race  or religion and dawned on me that there are good people and not so good people everywhere

  • Amber

    At 16, after having a big fight with my mother about me being able to go out at 10 at night to party with my friend.  The arguemnt ended with me yelling at her that I was almost and maybe I would just move out. My mother just walked out of the room and into her bedroom.  I followed a minute later, to continue the argument and found her crying in the bedroom.  I had an ephiny.  My mother was not at war with me.  My mother loved me.  My words could hurt her.  In that moment my mother became not just my mother, but a person. 

  • jg167

    The most interesting thing about “moments” is that for the most part they do NOT translate.  While we love sharing them, it is fundamentally different from experiencing them.  If this were not the case the world would be wildly different.  So the real question here is why is that?

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