The other day, James and I boarded an Airstream trailer parked at a curb in downtown Asheville. The trailer is traveling around the country interviewing regular folks like us, and collecting stories about “a-ha moments.”
When our interview was over, the interviewer asked me to explain what an “a-ha moment” meant to me.
This is what I thought:
Sometimes life gets unclear. Murky. Difficult to decipher. Like a run-on sentence, the longer it goes without punctuation, the less clear it becomes. As one idea runs into the next, meaning becomes diluted, the context is blurred, and ultimately, we walk away shaking our heads wondering, “What the heck was that all about?” Having an a-ha moment is like putting an exclamation point into that sentence. Life becomes not only meaningful, but declaration of life’s meaning. That exclamation point not only gives meaning to that moment, but meaning to everything that came before and after it.
But honestly, how many exclamation points can we expect to have in a lifetime? And just as our English teachers preached to us when we got a little carried away with the use of exclamation points in our essays, if you overuse them, everything starts seeming less important, not more.
So life not only needs exclamation points. It needs other punctuation too. Decisive periods that mark distinctions. Reflective commas that give us time to pause and breath. Instructive colons that point to what’s most important. Mysterious ellipsis that leave us wondering what’s next.
We have so many opportunities to find ways to make sense of our lives. As amazing and memorable those exclamation point, bolt-out-of-the-blue, a-ha moments are, we don’t need to wait for them to feel that are lives are meaningful.
With proper punctuation, our lives become like a fascinating story that fills us with a sense of wonder. It makes sense. It has deep meaning. It gives us pause for reflecton. And ultimately it leaves us wanting to turn the page to see what’s next.
Life deserves good punctuation. You’re the writer of your story. It’s your job to put it in place.