Saturday, November 9, 2013


By Julie Rahm

The word “event” has many different definitions. Wikipedia lists several different uses of “event” with a few interesting twists. In the world of computer software, an event can be a software message indicating something has happened. A keystroke or mouse click can be an event. In Unified Modeling Language, an event is defined as a notable occurrence at a particular time. Or, an event can be a synchronization mechanism. In the world of particle physics, an event refers to the results just after a fundamental interaction took place between subatomic particles. Even further, an event can be a point in space at an instant in time. In that case, an event can be a location in spacetime! For those interested in probability theory, an event can be a set of outcomes to which a probability is assigned. If you are a philosopher, an event can be an object in time or an instantiation of a property in an object. Got all that? All this is interesting. However, in our daily lives, events that occur usually get translated into our mental psyche. Good or bad, events can be life changing, life altering or life coloring.

Life changing events are usually traumatic and inject substantial change into a person’s life. Examples include death of a loved one, disability, divorce, marriage, or high school/college graduation. For the participant, life after one of these events is changed forever. A life-altering event is generally less traumatic or severe than a life-changing event.

Life altering events can disrupt or redirect life. But, for the participant life usually goes on as before. Accidents, engagements, or promotions are some examples of life altering events.

Lastly, life-coloring events are simply those that make good stories or teach life lessons without the trauma and drama. When the Pamlico High School football team wins or loses, the result is not life changing or life altering. The setback of a loss usually serves as a setup for the next victory. Life continues to the next game and season. Here’s the twist.

Perspective is most important. Not all events are life changing. For example, with teenagers, everything seems life changing! Life for them will end without the latest fashion or cell phone. It is difficult to persuade a teenager they are not what they drive.

So my message this week is when a life-changing event happens, stop and take a breath. Use a quiet moment for some event evaluation. Ask yourself, is this event going to change, alter or simply color my life? Perhaps these categories I have imposed on you are mostly a personal choice. Don’t allow an insignificant event to become life changing. My husband’s grandfather refused to watch the Oakland Athletics play baseball on television. He was angry because they left Philadelphia in 1955. He allowed the move of his favorite baseball team to become life altering! So be different. Know what kind of event is happening around you. And, look for ways that life changes can result for your good.

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