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Spock, a cement tunnel, and defining moments

By Melonie Cannon

Recently, I participated in a discussion on Facebook about our favorite defining moments for a character in the movies. I quote a friend, Patrick Gibbs, ”
“For me, a character defining moment is a moment that SHOWS you something about who the character is:… As for “Wrath of Khan,” it is defining for Spock, yes, because it shows us two things about him: he will indeed sacrifice himself because it is the logical choice, as the Vulcan half of him dictates, but he also does it out of love for his friends, which shows us his human and emotional side. It definitely Spock’s defining moment.”

In our own life, do we have defining moments? Do our actions “show” everyone around us and ourselves exactly who we are? Do the times when we are doing good (strong) things define who we are as much as the times that we are doing bad (weak) things? Are there times when we are Esther or are there moments when we are Delilah? Which are we?

I want to paint a picture for you right out of a teenage angst-filled movie of a girl you might have liked. She had a calm demeanor. When she smiled she had slightly crooked teeth. Her hair was a mousy brown and fell to her shoulders. She dressed in hand-me-downs and whatever items she could raid from her older sister’s closet. At seventeen, she stood all of 5’2″ and was the whopping weight of 103 lbs. There are dogs or vacuums bigger than she was. Most people did not notice her. She was one of the invisible ones.

It was the final champion game of the high school football season and it was being held at the local University stadium. To get there from the parking lot, one had to pass through a cement tunnel that ran under the main road. After the game, which her school had won, this girl was walking out with friends and mingling in the slow-moving crowd toward the tunnel. As she approached, she heard shouting and yelling coming from inside the tunnel. The crowd was swarming and surrounding a group of two football players from the opposite teams. They were beating on each other, bloody and bruising. Filling the air were shouts of “Give it to him! Fight! Fight! Fight!” and other stupid teenage phrases that are used to incite violence. As the small girl stood up on her toes to see the boys punching each other, she just kept moving forward, right through the police-line of teenagers. No one stopped her. She was invisible. As the fighters stepped away from one another to wipe the blood from their faces and to go in for another round, she stepped between them. Her arms rose above her head and then came down and stopped at shoulder-height, her palms squarely raised toward the two boys on either side of her. She felt suddenly filled with a power she had not experienced before. The crowd went immediately silent. She calmly, but forcefully said, “Stop fighting.” The boys stood with shocked looks on their faces. The moment froze. No one knew what to do. One of the fighter’s friends grabbed him and said, “C’mon! Let’s get out of here.” The crowd dispersed and moved around her.

“That was the bravest thing I have ever seen,” said a gangly, tall boy as he came to her. “How did you have the courage to do that?”

Was it a defining moment? Did it show everyone exactly who the girl was? Like Spock, did she sacrifice herself “because it is the logical choice,” and also “out of love for friends, which shows us his human and emotional side.” Three decades have passed and this same girl has had more defining moments and even pivotal, life-changing moments – marriage, giving birth to four children, losing loved ones, moves, and facing moral dilemmas. However, that one moment so long ago proved to her that she had an intercessory spirit. It was a tether to her better self and THAT was defining. She had no fear in stepping into moral debates, injustices, generosity, or even between her fighting teenage sons.

I won’t mention the weaker and bad defining moments because she did not recognize them as defining. To her, they were learning experiences and moments of commitment to move forward toward the person she longed to become. Perhaps that was the God moving within her, pushing her to becoming more like Him, the Great Intercessory.

In life, there are defining moments of tethering and moments of learning and letting go.

If your life was portrayed as a movie, what are some of your defining moments?

About Melonie Cannon

Melonie has surrounded herself with beautiful words for as long as she can remember. This led her to find a home with Segullah after writing an essay published in the May 2006 Segullah issue. She was invited to join the staff and has been a part of Segullah in various capacities since, including being the creator of the “Words Fall In” podcast.  She received her M.Ed from the University of Utah and was a certified Secondary English teacher before becoming a Mom of four. Over the years, her focus has been on natural healing modalities and becoming a sacred sound healing practitioner with a focus on the drum, rhythm, voice, and vibration. She is finishing her PH.D. in theology and metaphysics to further these studies and help women to connect to the divine within themselves.

6 thoughts on “Spock, a cement tunnel, and defining moments”

  1. Powerful! I will be thinking about this for WEEKS! Thank you for giving me a beautiful mental movie to watch and learn from! And one of the most significant parts of your essay is the reminder that the less than stellar moments don't have to be defining. We can, through the Atonement, choose to make them learning moments.

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  2. Today is my daughter's birthday and I spent the afternoon looking through photos of her and choosing ones to share with my friends and family on facebook. As I did this I was struck a number of times at how happy we all looked, especially my kids, as we did holidays, birthdays, and everyday stuff together. I deal with chronic illness that saps my energy both physical and emotional and this has been a defining struggle for me. I've noticed Heavenly Father dropping hints frequently the last couple months and today was a major eye-opener; this trial is defining for me because I haven't given up, and in spite of how physically ill I feel or emotionally spent I am, the life I am giving my family is actually pretty darn good. It's so easy for me to believe I am not enough/not good enough to give them what they need, but surprise, they are happy, healthy, and doing well. Maybe this doesn't make much sense…I guess I just feel like there may actual be purpose in the suffering I experience, and my ability to keep my testimony strong, try to have faith, and love my family and others is exactly what I need to do. I am where I should be, and recognizing that is powerfully defining.

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  3. Laramyn,

    I just wanted to extend my empathy. I have suffered from chronic illness for going on 12 years. I have come to see some of how God has worked through it, in spite of it, and because of it. It doesn't necessarily make the day-to-day struggles any easier, but being in it for this long has helped me see with more of an eye of faith.

    Still, my heart goes out to you. Chronic illness is HARD.

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  4. I love that invisible girl in the tunnel with her hands raised, shifting the whole world. I think I am IN my defining moment right now, where I have to trust Spirit when it says "Leave" and stick to it in the face of angry opposition. The claiming of our own power is life-changing.

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