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defining moments

"your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. keep going. tough situations build strong people in the end.”

― roy t. bennett


july 4, 1776 - 13 colonies declare themselves independent sovereign states no longer subjected to british colonial rule


december 7, 1941 - japan attacks pearl harbor and the usa, a neutral country until that point, formally enters ww2

august 28, 1963 - a march for a comprehensive civil rights bill encompassing a variety of goals sees martin luther king share his famous “i have a dream” speech

september 11, 2011 - four suicide terrorist attacks, known as the 9/11 attacks, were coordinated against the usa

these are just four defining moments in the history of the united states of america. along with other defining moments, they have been instrumental in changing the “landscape” of the usa. these sort of defining moments, past, present and yet to come, can create a trajectory that is hard to deflect once in motion. some fortify and strengthen our nation; some bring about destruction, both in a physical and emotional sense, to our nation.

i want to talk about defining moments of a different sort. they define moments in our personal lives. they, too, can be good or bad; my hope is that, for most of us, there have been more good than bad. some are life-changing and result in the path we took in life. some moments are memories that are not necessarily life-changing. rather, they define a sort of milestone or time period in our life as we walk the path of human life from birth to death.

perhaps you might have had a life-changing defining moment that set you on a path toward excellence. someone believed in you or some thing in your life awoke a passion in you that fueled your love and desire to excel.

for me, there is one among others that comes to my mind. to be honest, i had no input in it. it was a decision made by two other people that determined my future in part, if not whole. i was born a healthy baby. a year and a half later, i was burning up and packed in ice. i had contracted spinal meningitis and there was no cure for it then. it was not looking like my life was going to go on much longer. i went into a coma for eight days. during that time, my mom and dad, both followers of Jesus, sent out prayer requests that, to my understanding, traversed the world to other followers of Jesus.

i don’t know your personal faith journey or if you even have one. everyone makes their own choice and i think no less of you as a person whether they align with my beliefs or not. i can only speak for myself. i’m a follower and i believe Jesus answered those prayers by allowing me to come out of my coma. however, the story and miracle doesn’t stop there. the doctors told my mom and dad to prepare to put me in an institution as i would be in a vegetative state. my brain would be too damaged from what happened to me.

this is where a life-changing defining moment happened for me. my parents said no. it wasn’t even an option for them. i was theirs and there was no way they were going to let me be raised in another environment. they knew it wasn’t going to be easy but they knew it would be worth it. i, for one, am glad they made that decision! it’s not been an easy life with the challenges of being hearing impaired but i did my best to excel in my life. today, i’m a healthy adult (well, a bit chubby…) and my mind is just fine (although those who know me might say otherwise sometimes 😂).


then there are defining moments that are more of a milestone(s) in our life, a sort of “memory imprint” in our ever-forward march through life.

for me, one “memory imprint” i have is of my brother (i wish i remembered more but for some reason, i don’t have much long-term memories. i remember things here and there; some have no rhyme or reason as to why i remember them). i lived in st. anthony village in minnesota from middle school through my junior year of high school. middle school, junior high and high school shared the same building. a door separated middle school/junior high and high school from each other. while not the norm, sometimes students had to venture into high school land and vice versa.

let me stop and say here that, for most of my school years, i was bullied. being chubby, wearing glasses, being hearing impaired; they all were classic “types” that, for whatever reason, seemed to bring out the worst in people whether for fun or to hide their own insecurities.

at any rate, i remember walking up the stairs on the high school side. i was still in middle school/junior high as my brother was almost five years older than me and he was not yet a senior. there was this one kid who took particular delight in making sure i was belittled both emotionally and physically. this particular time, as i stood there being bullied and people walking on by like nothing was happening, my bother happened to be coming down the same stairs. he pulled the kid aside from me and took matters into his own hand. truth be told, i have no idea what happened. as soon as tim (my brother) stepped in, i quickly left the scene. i just know that my big brother took care of me even though it’s not cool to have an “annoying little brother” of which i’m sure i was. heck, i’m even annoying to my wife in this present day sometimes…😂. i hope i told him thanks later. i have no clue if i did.

this brings me to a “milestone” memory related to the images for this blog. for some parents and their child, it might be the child’s first haircut in a barbershop. most of us might know the classic image of a kid crying in the barbershop chair as the barber begins the “first cut”. these two images for the blog were made at night close to a year ago. i was actually across the street in the former schmidt brewery location making some images. as i wrapped up my time there, i saw 7th street barbers kitty corner from where i was. i was reminded of a friend, tomas alvarez, who did a glass to glass series a while back (making images of cool looking store interiors after hours through the glass) and encouraged others to try to make some. i decided to do just that looking through 7th street barbers’ window.


this barbershop is the oldest continuously operating barbershop in minnesota, having first set up operations back in 1893 or 1894. as i looked through the glass, it definitely had a retro vibe to it. the flooring was checkered. the walls were adorned with all sorts of old memorabilia and wall art. i don’t know if the barber chairs and waiting chairs were old or “made to look old” but they, too, added to the yesteryear look. the foreground barber chair in one of the images here had a leather strap that would have been used over the years to sharpen blades that trimmed facial hair. it was a fascinating interior and great fun to look at! will i ever get a haircut there? probably not as i’m bald. but one can dream, right?

both images i’m sharing here are softer in look; not all images, in my opinion, have to be completely sharp. in this case, a softer look invokes a nostalgia feel, a sort of walking down memory lane. it’s a hearkening back to times and places that live on in our memories. soft images are a great fit for that. making images from the other side of glass certainly helps with that as well depending on the clarity of the glass.


this first image is of the overall barbershop. perhaps as you gaze throughout the image, you will see objects that bring other moments and/or milestones (fond or otherwise) in your life to the forefront of your mind. even if you don't have any memories triggered, take time to just enjoy what you see in the image. there is a hodge-podge of cool and fun things to check out! don't forget to click on the image below to make it larger and see throughout the image easier if you need to.



the second image is of the aforementioned barber chair in the foreground. as you look at the chair, perhaps you will find yourself reminded of some barber that was a fixture in your life, one who even made a difference in your life in some way. perhaps you will be reminded of the time you got your first haircut or took your child to get his/her first haircut. perhaps you will be reminded of the smell,