There are so many big things that can happen in our life, besides the things I’ve already written about. I’ve experienced quite a few of them myself. Major signs in our life cause a paradigm shift and if it’s a big shift then we have an epiphany. I had an anthropology professor who was very fond of talking about paradigm shifts. He would often say things like “Once you learn more about Lucy and the history of Australopithecus in Africa you will have a paradigm shift about human history.” I added the epiphany part myself. I’ve never had a paradigm shift without a huge eye-opening epiphany.
A paradigm is a typical example or pattern of something. When what is typical to us suddenly shifts, we come face-to-face with big decisions, major crossroads or as my dad is fond of saying “all hell breaks loose!”
Here are a few things I can think off of the top of my head that fall into the big shifts:
- religious changes either in yourself and what you believe or in a family member
- going to college or choosing a college that your family doesn’t want you to attend
- deciding to drop out of college when people around you think you should stay
- major travel (there are places we go that unexpectedly take our breath away and we never want to leave) can change our whole life plan
- an accident
- a first date or a blind date
- fulfilling a life-long dream or achieving a huge goal that you set for yourself, because most people don’t think about what comes after
- winning the lottery (I never have) or some other major financial change
I’m sure there are so many big things I haven’t thought of, probably because those experiences aren’t in my life experience. For example, the three hikers who were imprisoned in Iran, made a choice to visit a peaceful part of Iraq (I would never do that because I just wouldn’t choose to go there; I have kids and a family who rely on me, so I wouldn’t even take the chance). These three hikers were travel writers, humanitarian volunteers, single, younger and looking for adventure. They went on a hike near the Iraq-Iran border by themselves and “accidentally” strayed across the border into Iran and were arrested. A lot of the specific details were contested, but ultimately, they were put in prison. One of those hikers, Sarah Shourd, spent more than a year in prison in Tehran, Iran and the other two (the men) were incarcerated for over two years. They are all out now and home. They were world travelers, they typically did things like hike in foreign countries, and this one time a choice they made turned into a life-changing struggle to get their freedom back.
I followed their story on Twitter and have always taken it as a reminder that our lives can change in the blink of an eye. When we face these big signs in our lives they bring us just as hard and abruptly to the Crossroads and the choices we make there have lasting repercussions. I’m not suggesting we all over-think every single choice in our lives, because things will happen regardless, but I am suggesting that we take the time to get to know ourselves, our hearts, listen to our intuition, practice good self-care so that when we do have something happen, we have some grounded knowledge of our own journey so we can make good choices for ourselves.