Defining Moments: Exploring the ‘Significant Experience’ Essay Prompt

In the span of our lives, we sometimes experience events that forever change who we are and turn us into something new well-being. These turning points have the power to alter us by shedding light on our core values, assumptions, and goals.

The “significant experience” essay prompts, a typical writing assignment that tests our ability to go into the depths of our personal story and portray the significance of a specific event or encounter, is a potent tool to capture and reflect on these deep events.

In this blog, let’s discover the essay prompt’s true meaning, “significant experience.” We will examine how you can write significant experience , some application essay ideas , and the approaches to successfully completing it.

Whether you are a student assigned to write a college entrance essay or a person seeking self-reflection, this blog will offer you insightful tips to help you negotiate the complexities of this essay prompt.

Let’s begin, but first, get to know about defining moments.

What are Defining Moments?

Defining moments are significant occasions or encounters that can form and define a person, group of people, culture, or even an entire era. These events leave a lasting impression, changing a person’s life path, forming identities, or determining the course of bigger entities.

Positive or bad defining moments can happen on a variety of scales. A life-changing decision, such as selecting a professional path, getting married, or taking on a significant challenge, might be a defining event on a personal level. Determining moments for organisations might include significant strategic choices, ground-breaking inventions, or significant failures that result in dramatic change.

These defining moments are important because they frequently exhibit traits of tenacity, character, and ideals. They push people or things to make decisions, take chances, and face their own strengths and flaws. Defining moments may put one’s determination to the test, requiring reflection and development. They can also operate as catalysts for individual or group development, bringing about changes in perspective, priorities, and course of action.

Additionally, pivotal events might have an impact beyond the people or organisations directly engaged. They have the power to motivate people, launch social movements, or alter the course of history, politics, or culture. Defined moments can leave a lasting imprint and contribute to communal awareness by influencing narratives and changing views.

Unveiling the Purpose of the ‘Significant Experience’ Essay Prompt

The “significant experience” essay prompt is among the application essay ideas given to students, particularly those seeking scholarships or college. This essay prompt is meant to inspire people to think about and share a particular experience that has profoundly impacted their life and shaped their personal development, beliefs, or objectives.

The essay prompt seeks to accomplish the following goals:

# Self-reflection

The prompt promotes contemplation and self-awareness by letting people dive into a memorable event. People are prompted to reflect in depth on their history and the occasions that have moulded them, promoting a deeper knowledge of their ideals, virtues, and flaws.

# Personal Development

The essay prompt challenges people to specify and explain how their major experience has influenced their personal development. It gives people a chance to show off their capacity to overcome obstacles, adapt to novel situations, and exhibit perseverance.

# Communication Abilities

Strong communication abilities are necessary when you write significant experience in your college entrance essay. Individuals can get practise speaking properly, structuring their ideas, and presenting them in a logical and interesting way by responding to the question.

# Character and Values Demonstration

The essay prompts allow a student to show who they are and what they stand for. People can demonstrate their integrity, compassion, tenacity, or other qualities that make them who they are by talking about the effects of a significant experience.

# Differentiating Oneself

The noteworthy experience essay prompt gives people an opportunity to stand out from other applicants in competitive situations like college or scholarship applications . It enables applicants to offer distinctive experiences and viewpoints, showcasing their distinctiveness and possible value to a given group or organisation.

Also read: Overcoming Obstacles: Using The ‘Challenge You’ve Faced’ Essay Prompt To Your Advantage

Effective Strategies for Crafting an Effective Essay

Planning carefully, reflecting deeply, and writing well is necessary to create a successful essay, especially one that responds to a “significant experience” challenge. Here are some tips to assist you in writing an engaging and effective essay:

  • Think of the Experience: Take some time to seriously consider your big event and how it has affected your life. Think about the feelings, difficulties, and lessons you’ve learnt. Ask yourself why it was important and how it influenced your development, principles, or goals.
  • Create a Main Theme: Decide on a main idea or statement that best captures the spirit of your memorable event. Your essay’s central subject will act as its compass and aid in giving it cohesion and focus. It could involve fortitude, sympathy, internal change, or any other pertinent quality.
  • Create a Captivating Introduction: Your essay should begin with a strong introduction that captures the reader’s interest. You can utilise anecdotes, challenging questions, or evocative descriptions to create the scene and entice the reader into your tale. Indicate the experience’s importance and its main subject in clear terms.
  • Give Context: Give the reader adequate background information to enable them to comprehend the setting of your noteworthy event. Give details about the situation’s surroundings, participants, and any other pertinent information.
  • Craft a Compelling Story: Create an engaging tale by structuring your essay as a narrative and inviting the reader to share your memorable experience. Use dialogue, sensory elements, and descriptive language to make the tale come to life. Show, not tell, how the event has affected your life.
  • Showcase Its Significance: After you’ve described the incident, consider its relevance and the lessons you learnt from it. Describe how it has affected your beliefs, objectives, or worldview. Reflections should be sincere and self-reflective.
  • Highlight Your Personal Growth: Showcase your progress by emphasising how the noteworthy event has helped you grow personally. Talk about the difficulties you encountered, the steps you took to overcome them, and the abilities or traits you acquired as a result.
  • Build a Link with the Future: Link your meaningful experience to your hopes and goals for the future. Describe how your future decisions, activities, or contributions to your community or field of interest will be impacted by the lessons you have learned and the values you have gained.
  • Make Your Words and Examples Vivid: Making your essay memorable requires the use of vivid language, striking imagery, and precise examples. This makes your tale more relatable and powerful, and it also helps to interest the reader.
  • Proofread Your Essay: After writing the first draft, edit and revise your essay. Verify your writing for grammatical, punctuation, and clarity faults. Make sure your essay makes sense and that you can clearly explain your thoughts.

It’s important to remember that your essay should be real and honest, allowing for the expression of your viewpoint and voice. By using these techniques, you can write an essay that conveys the importance of your experience and leaves the reader with a lasting impression.

Also Read: The Value Of The Right Advice In College Admissions: Guiding Your Path To Success

Examples and Inspiration

Let’s take a look at examples of some significant essay prompts related to application essay ideas that can you consider for practising:

Example 1: Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking

I experienced a debilitating fear of speaking in public during my high school years. Every time I had to present a project or speak in front of my classmates, my hands would sweat profusely, my heart would race, and my words would get jumbled up. However, I knew that confronting this fear was crucial for my personal growth and future success.

To tackle my fear, I enrolled in a public speaking course and made a commitment to work through it. I finally conquered my fear through constant practice, preparation, and determination, delivering polished and confident presentations. The experience taught me the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone and the value of hard work.

Key Takeaways:

  • Conquering one’s fears can lead to self-improvement and personal growth.
  • Hard work and dedication can yield great results.

Example 2: Finding My Passion for Community Service

While in college, I was constantly searching for opportunities to make a difference in the community. Then, I stumbled upon a local non-profit organization whose mission was to assist underprivileged youth. After signing up to volunteer, I was immediately struck by the children’s joy and enthusiasm, and I knew right then that community service was my passion.

Over time, I became more involved with the organization and even started my own initiative to raise funds and awareness for their cause. Through this experience, I learned the power of community service and how helping others can bring meaning and fulfilment to one’s life.

  • Finding one’s passion and purpose is crucial for personal fulfilment.
  • Assisting others brings happiness to both the helper and the beneficiaries.

Example 3: Getting through Adversity

Unexpected difficulties and barriers might come along in life, and how we respond to them shapes who we are. In my instance, I had to step up and assume additional obligations due to a challenging family circumstance. Initially, I felt overwhelmed and unsure, but I knew I had to get the courage to keep going. I was able to conquer these obstacles with courage and dedication, coming out stronger and more resilient than before. This incident taught me the value of tenacity and the necessity of depending on our inner strength while facing challenges.

Key conclusions

  • We can be defined by how we respond to hardship.
  • The importance of tenacity and inner fortitude.

Summing It Up

To sum up, the “significant experience” essay prompts offer a potent forum for people to consider and discuss the pivotal events that have affected their life. Through this introspective practice, one develops self-awareness, clarity of purpose, and a better comprehension of their values and ambitions. These pieces promote self-improvement, resiliency, and the cultivation of a growth mindset. People can engage with others, arouse empathy, and create lasting connections by creating fascinating tales around these important experiences. Accepting the chance to think back on our defining experiences gives us the ability to draw lessons from the past, appreciate the present, and sculpt a future that is in line with our true selves.

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Here is an example of a college essay question that demands you discuss challenges and how you overcame them:

“Describe a significant hardship or obstacle you have faced in your life. How did you confront and overcome it? What did you learn from this experience, and how has it shaped you as an individual?”

  Essay Answer:

I can clearly remember the heartbreaking day my family learned of my father’s cancer diagnosis. We were surprised and terrified as the word resonated across the space. Our lives were abruptly flipped upside down, and the difficulties we encountered felt insurmountable. But this struggle turned into a turning point that put my fortitude to the test, gave me priceless life lessons, and helped me become the person I am today.

I had to stand strong for my family while we dealt with my father’s illness. I assumed obligations that were above my years, helping with housework, scheduling appointments, and offering emotional support. It was difficult to juggle my academic obligations with my newly acquired duties, but I refused to let my situation define who I was. I turned to my passion for studying for comfort, utilising it as a way to manage my emotions and keep things in perspective.

A mindset change was necessary to overcome this adversity. I chose to concentrate on our happy and grateful times rather than dwell on the bad. I came to understand how crucial it is to treasure each special moment and look for the positive aspects of even the most trying circumstances. With this new perspective, I was able to develop resilience because I approached each obstacle with tenacity and a firm conviction that we could conquer it.

My father’s sickness taught me the value of compassion and empathy. Seeing his fortitude and bravery in the face of suffering motivated me to be compassionate to those going through similar struggles. I started a support group at my school to offer a secure environment for kids going through various difficulties. My grasp of the human experience has grown due to this event, and I now desire to guide people through their own difficulties.

The journey we went on together as a family taught me the importance of harmony and unwavering love. In the course of supporting one another through the highs and lows of the treatment process, we developed an unbreakable friendship. My mother became my pillar of strength, exhibiting unflinching fortitude and giving me the conviction that love and support could overcome even the most difficult challenges.

This struggle has completely changed who I am. I’ve come out with a greater capacity for empathy, a fortitude that helps me move ahead, and a profound understanding of how fleeting life is. Additionally, having personally seen the positive effects of caring and committed professionals on the lives of patients and their families has strengthened my desire to pursue a career in healthcare.

This well-written essay answer shows how the student encountered a huge challenge, overcame it with tenacity and persistence, gained important lessons, and was moulded by the encounter. It demonstrates the growth and development that resulted from conquering the challenge by incorporating personal tales, thoughts, and a link to future objectives. When replying to a similar prompt, keep in mind that your essay should reflect your individual experiences and writing style.

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defining moment in life essay

VIA Institute On Character

Life Changes

What are your defining moments, by dr. ryan niemiec.

defining moment in life essay

Reflecting on Important Moments in Time

We all have moments in our lives that can be considered “defining moments”– times when a certain thing happened that changed our life trajectory. Taking time to reflect and focus on these moments can improve your life.

Consider this first date I had 14 years ago. After a stagnant and uncomfortable dinner, we walked out of the Mexican restaurant together. I had many thoughts swirling around as I held the door for my date: “This is it. I’ll never go out with this beautiful woman again,” and I ruminated, “All my efforts to find the courage to ask her out in the first place are down the drain. I guess I blew it.”

But, among the negativity, I had another thought floating around in my mind. It was a small but persistent thought: “Give it one more try.” I listened to that thought. And so, as we walked to the car, I kicked a stone into the bushes and with my chin at my chest, I mumbled, “Um, do you want to go get some coffee or something?” She replied, “Sure!” I was flabbergasted. The evening and coffee shifted into high gear and a wonderful connection ensued. That woman later became my wife.

That moment – my kicking the stone and deciding, “Don’t give up just yet. Give it one more try. Just one more” – was a defining moment for me. One of the character strengths at play was perseverance (a mid-level strength for me, but one I can bring forth powerfully when I need to), and another strength was hope (one of my signature strengths which drives most of what I do in life). Both of these strengths played a life-changing role for me.

This defining moment impacted my identity – who I am. I learned that when something is really important to me I give things that extra push and effort. And I have my hope strength always looking for possibilities and opportunities in my life, even if it is only one thought among a cloud of detractors.

As I examine the situation, I see that there are meta-strengths, often called “virtues,” also at play. Courage is a virtue that helps us to step up during these moments. I had to overcome the thoughts of “I can’t,” “but I might fail,” and “what’s the point?” At the least, I had to act courageously, even if I didn’t feel so brave in that moment.

This story represents the 4 steps of a positive intervention called the Defining Moments Exercise. Want to give it a try?

Here are the 4 steps to practice the Defining Moments Exercise:

1.) defining moment:.

Name one moment in time that has had a positive effect on you. Preferably, choose a moment in which you took action in some way. This moment doesn’t have to be dramatic, simply any moment that has had a meaningful impact on you.

2.) Character strengths:

List the character strengths you used in that situation. Which character strengths did you bring forth? How did you express them?

3.) Identity:

Explore how this moment has shaped who you are. How has this moment contributed to your identity? No matter how small, how has it affected your view of yourself?

4.) Courage, Wisdom, Humanity, or other virtues:

Step back and view the bigger picture. Were you enacting virtues that helped you mobilize your strengths in that moment? Many individuals rally their courage in order to take action in their defining moment.

While the Defining Moments Exercise has not been fully tested, it has been used with success around the world in workshops, courses, and in Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP) groups. Future research will bear out the potential benefits. In the meantime, my anecdotal evidence reveals the following benefits:

  • Increases savoring. Individual understand their past more clearly and cherish impactful moments in their life.
  • Builds self-efficacy. Individuals realize past successes are connected to their internal strengths and therefore move forward in future endeavors with greater confidence.
  • Improves positive memory recall. While every defining moment might not be positive, the opportunity to see the positive in core events of the past is always present in this exercise (helps with access of positive autobiographical memory).
  • Enhances positive self-perception.

Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

defining moment in life essay

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Dr. ryan niemiec.

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An Important Event in My Life: a Reflection

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What Are the Most Meaningful Moments of Your Life?

Researchers typify characteristics of moments people find the most meaningful..

Posted April 27, 2021 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan

  • Meaningful memories tend to feature loved ones who people feel emotionally close to.
  • Common themes of meaningful experiences include opening up to life, facing the precariousness of life, and countering negative events.
  • People don't tend to rate work and career-related experiences as their most meaningful.

In Hirokazu Koreeda’s film “After Life” (1998), people are asked to select just one memory to take with them to the afterlife. In their paper, “Wonderful Life: Exploring Wonder in Meaningful Moments” (2017), Jacky van de Goor and her colleagues posed a similar question to a sample of a hundred people: “What if there is an afterlife. There, all your memories will be erased, except for one. Which memory do you choose to take with you to eternity?”

The sample included 50 men and 50 women from a wide variety of ages and professions. They all participated in personal development workshops and were asked to take 15 minutes to describe in writing, as if it were a story or a film fragment, the one memory they would select to take with them to the afterlife.

van de Goor and her colleagues supposed that being asked to choose only one memory that would then accompany the person to the afterlife may help disclose to the participants what is highly meaningful in their lives. It would also allow researchers to learn, from a new and unconventional perspective, what is meaningful to people.

Common Themes of Meaningful Experiences

The researchers found the following general characteristics typical of the replies they received:

  • The main characters often described in the "stories" were people to which the participants were emotionally close (partners, children, parents, grandparents, close friends, etc.).
  • When parents appeared, it was usually one parent rather than both.
  • The stories described the events in different settings, but of all the stories, only one was set in the workplace.
  • The emotions or values represented in the memories were usually positive, such as gratefulness, love, warmth, happiness , pride, peace, and trust.
  • The researchers found that the stories could be collated into five main types:

Type A –Opening Up to Life: the meaningful event happens unintentionally, is new and surprising to the storyteller, leading her to learn, understand, or open up to something.

Type B–Facing the Precariousness of Life: In this type of story, unlike the previous one, the meaningful event occurs in a negative, demanding, or difficult setting (e.g., crisis, accident, death). However, as in the previous type, the event is unintentional and can be surprising. The positive content of the event (e.g., an insight, happy ending, emotional closeness) contrasts with the negative context in which it appears.

Type C–Celebrations: In this type of story, the meaningful event (e.g., a wedding; a birthday) is planned and created intentionally. Hence, the meaningful event isn’t surprising, although it differs from the ordinary. It often has to do with relationships with other people and is carried out in other people’s company.

Type D–Countering the Negative: As in the second type, events in this type of story are set in a negative context. But unlike stories of the second type, and like those of the third type, the difficult, dangerous, or demanding situations are countered by active and intentional actions, which as such aren't surprising. Here, too, events or actions may be relational (e.g., helping, soothing, healing).

Type E–Familiar Routines: These stories aren’t set in negative contexts and don’t relate to non-routine celebrations or extraordinary events. These stories have to do with ordinary, routine occurrences that happen repeatedly, but in the remembered incidence they are strongly sensed as special and valuable.

Perhaps you, the reader, may also want to ask yourself the question posed in the research and consider what one memory you would want to take to the afterlife. As for me, I couldn’t decide between several events or stories, all of them involving emotional closeness to a loved one.

Interpretations and Caveats About Meaningful Events

defining moment in life essay

Here are some more thoughts on van de Goor and her colleagues’ research. First, it is noteworthy that hardly anyone in the sample mentioned meaningful moments that had to do with work and career . Perhaps, although we dedicate so many of our waking hours to work, sometimes sacrificing for its sake our personal relations, the results above may teach us something about what’s most important for us.

Second, it’s a pity that the researchers didn’t try to examine whether there are any differences in preferred memories among gender groups, age groups, social-economic groups, professional groups, etc.

Third, it would have been interesting to compare the replies to the researchers’ question to replies to another possible question, namely “What is the most meaningful event in your life?” The researchers relate the question they asked to meaningfulness, but it may be that the replies had to do with pleasant events mostly because people want to remain for eternity with a pleasant memory. If people were asked to describe just a meaningful event, replies may have also included negative meaningful experiences. It would be interesting to compare the replies to the researchers’ question with replies to other questions.

Finally, the authors themselves point at a possible problem in the research: the data was collected at workshops in which group dynamics and discussion themes might have influenced the replies. I think they are right. It may also be that the people who go to workshops in which questions such as the above are posed are more prone to presenting some types of replies rather than others (e.g., relationship-oriented replies rather than career-oriented replies).

Nevertheless, this remains an interesting and important question to pose to oneself and to others in order to learn, from a certain perspective, about what is meaningful in life to oneself and to other people.

Facebook /LinkedIn image: AlessandroBiascioli/Shutterstock

van de Goor, J., Sools, A. M., Westerhof, G. J., and. Bohlmeijer, E. T. 2017. Wonderful Life: Exploring Wonder in Meaningful Moments. Journal of Humanistic Psychology 60(2): 1–21. DOI: 10.1177/0022167817696837

Iddo Landau, Ph.D.

Iddo Landau, Ph.D. , is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Haifa. He has written extensively on the meaning of life and is the author of Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World .

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12 Defining Moments in Life (and the Importance of Each)

When I originally wrote this post in 2010,  I was sitting on a ferry from Koh Phi Phi, Thailand to Railay Beach. I was floating in the Andaman Sea in the middle of a Wednesday.

The same Wednesday that used to be spent in an office, dreaming  of the day where I could go off gallivanting around the world for an indefinite period of time.

Here at Location Rebel I play up my ability to do this quite a bit.

We shoot videos from all over the world , and post those fun laptop photos. Like this one from Cabo last month:

Laptop and ocean view

Getting some work done in my hotel room at Pueblo Bonito in Cabo San Lucas.

Not because I’m trying to brag, but because this is my life.  This is my reality. When I started the site, I was very honest about my cluelessness about life and where I was going.

I continue that same honesty and openness now as well.

So for those of you who have called me out for bragging or don’t believe everything I write here, very politely: go somewhere else if you don’t like what I have to say.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’ve come to realize there are ten very important life-altering moments that I’ve experienced in the last few years which have made my dream into a reality.

Ten very specific moments, which I remember vividly that have helped shape who I am.

What is a Defining Moment?

A defining moment in your life is an occasion where your life’s path has undeniably changed.

It could be something that changes within yourself. Maybe you experience and injury or illness that changes your perspective in life.

It could be an external factor like a career or relationship change.

But a defining moment is one of those times that you know you’ll look back on and say “If it weren’t for that, things would be different.”

As you go on your own path, you undoubtedly will have similar defining moments.  In fact, I’m sure you already have. Sometimes it just takes a while to realize how important these moments are.

Defining Moment Examples

Before I jump into my  defining moments, I think it’s important to look at what a defining moment is and what different kinds of them are out there.

The dictionary definition of a defining moment is an event that influences or changes all subsequent related occurrences.

To put it more simply a defining moment is a fork in the road. It’s one of those times where depending on the moment, and how you react to it your life could go one direction  or  another.

Here are some common defining moment examples:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Starting a new job or leaving an old one
  • Beginning a new business partnership
  • Taking a big trip
  • Paying of debt
  • Finishing school
  • Losing a Loved One
  • Having a baby

The list goes on, but these are some of the most common examples you’d expect.

Now, with those in mind, I want to share with you 12 of my most important  “defining moments” in life.

These are the things that have put me on the path that I’m on, and frankly it was some of these decisions that have shaped not only my life, but Location Rebel and this business as well.

My Ten Defining Moments in Life

#1: backpacked through europe – without the backpack.

This was my first global adventure.  It was a two-month backpacking trip that was not only cut down to 3 weeks due to employment reasons, but it also had to be experienced with next to nothing.

The fine folks over at Air Canada had lost my bag when I arrived in Rome.  It subsequently returned to my home in the U.S. two days before I did.


For as angry as I was about this, it had a very profound impact on who I am and how I travel.   This was the trip where I realized that I need very little to get by.

Along with that, I learned that all of these mishaps are all part of the adventure .  Whether you’re at home or traveling, shit happens.  When you can go with the flow, you’ll be far better off.

Think about this as you go on your entrepreneurial journey.   I promise you, things will go wrong.  There will be times that totally suck.  You will make it through, and chances are, you’ll have a hell of a story at the end of the day as well.  And if you know anything about me, you know that’s what I’m all about – having good stories.

Related: How Backingpacking Through Europe (Without a Backpack) Changed My Life

#2: Began Location Rebel Blog

Originally this point was “made my first dollar online” but I realized if it weren’t for starting this blog, I never would have made that money.

I began Location Rebel to hold myself accountable for doing the things I wanted to do in my life.  To be honest, I didn’t expect the site to live past the first month.

I’m awesome at starting things. You want to get a project off the ground? Get me involved.  I’m full of ideas and enthusiasm, and I always stay positive.  That said, when it comes to seeing long term projects through, I struggle a bit.

That’s why it’s so remarkable that we’re still going strong in 2018! This post was  originally  written in 2011…

Working on this post at my hotel in Railay Beach, Thailand

Working at the Bhu Nga Thani on Railay Beach, Thailand less than 7 months after starting this blog.

To see that this is the 245 th post on the site, I can’t help but think about the lessons this blog has taught me.  Not the least of which is persistence.  By staying persistent and continuing to blog, I’ve shown myself that I can indeed see things through to the end, and I’ve seen first hand just how valuable that persistence can be.

All of that said, it was that first $22 commission off an ebook called Source Control that I realized the potential of the internet.  To see that commission come in opened up a whole world of possibility that I knew nothing about – but I was damn sure going to learn about it.

Your takeaway? Persistence pays off.  If you’re working hard and aren’t seeing the benefits you want – keep working.  It’s all a matter of having the right combination of things come together.  For some people this happens right away, for others it takes longer, but in the end, it will work out.

Related: The Very First Blog Post I Ever Published at Location Rebel

#3: Quit My Job

I still remember this day like it was yesterday.  It was quite possibly the most terrifying yet exciting day of my life.  It was the first day in my life where I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

I went from being terrified of the uncertainty to embracing it, and eventually turning it into an asset.

I may be one of the few people who actually benefitted from the tanking economy in 2009-2013.  Had we seen a bull run in 2008 and 2009, I’d be willing to bet that I’d be preparing to put my suit on here in a few hours.

Entrepreneurs see opportunity in a poor economy – many men and women have made their fortunes in such times.

I’ve made mine.

While it may not be a monetary fortune, it’s one much more important than that – I’ve built a fortune in time and opportunity.  I wish I could say that’s how I’d planned it from the beginning.

But rather I just look back and say, “wow that worked out better than I expected!”

Anything worth doing will terrify you.  There will be uncertainty.  However, taking the leap can (and probably will) be the best choice you’ve ever made – assuming it’s what you want.

This is all just as relevant these days we we enter into year 3 of the pandemic. It’s made things very difficult for a lot of people, but if you embrace the uncertainty we’re facing, it could turn into a wonderful chance to make a change.

  • My Last Day
  • How to Quit Your Job (Without Burning Bridges)

#4: Moved to Thailand

This was the first time in my life where I first consciously thought about the idea of a “defining moment.”

In fact, I remember the  exact  date and time.

January 5th, 2010.

I was sitting at the Portland airport, about to board a flight to Thailand – where I’d live for the next 7 months.

Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand

Victory Monument, taken on my last day living in Thailand. This was about 5 minutes from my apartment.

I even wrote a post about it: “Embrace Life’s Defining Moments.”

Never in my life had I lived more than an hour from my family.

I’d never even been to Asia.

This was the biggest, scariest thing I’d ever done in my life up to that point. And honestly? It may  still  be the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

#5: Ran a Marathon

It wasn’t until the last 200 meters of my marathon that I:

  • Actually believed I would finish
  • Realized what I profound impact it would have on me moving forward.

Running a marathon was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done.  I’m not a runner, and will never claim to be.  This was the one thing on my bucket list that I actually thought may never happen (ok, Virgin Galactic may be a bit of a long shot as well).

So when I entered Hayward Field for the last 200 meters of the Eugene Marathon I was overcome with emotion.  I wasn’t sure if I was fighting back tears or if it was the last 26 miles catching up with me, but I hit an emotional point I’d never experienced.  To know that I was seconds away from actually accomplishing something that I never thought possible, was so eye-opening.

Sean Ogle running the Eugene Marathon.

Strangely, this was one of the most emotional moments of my life.

All of a sudden, my reality shifted.  If I could do this, what else could I do? What couldn’t I do?

Maybe it’s a false sense of self-assuredness, but I really do believe I can do pretty much whatever I want.  If it weren’t for the marathon I don’t think I’d have anywhere near the confidence I have now.

Confidence is everything.  If you’re confident in what you do, other people will gravitate towards you and share in your confidence – whatever it may be directed towards.

Go accomplish your impossible . Afterwards? You’ll never look at life the same again.

Related: How to Run a Marathon with (Almost) No Training

#6: Released Location Rebel Academy

Location Rebel Academy is the culmination of the last 11 years of my life.  It incorporates everything I’ve talked about in this post.  Overcoming fears, building a blog , starting a business , and living life on your own terms.

I was able to take all of the skills that I learned along the way, and share them with others in hope you can do a similar thing in your own life.

Work from Home Jobs

This was the week I officially launched Location Rebel Academy. I spent 2 months living in Bali while I did it.

The best part? That’s exactly what happened. Thousands of members and success stories later, I truly feel like the Academy has made an impact.

I knew it was a good program.  But it wasn’t until releasing it and seeing the success that everyone is having that I realized I was on to something.

This program has given me more confidence to continue putting out content and going farther down the rabbit hole and seeing what’s truly possible.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I really hope you will.  Whether you join our community or just grab the free Arsenal ebook , I promise you will get value out of it.  I know I and many others have.

The five defining moments above I first wrote in 2011 when this was first published. They’re still  major milestones in my life.

But since then there have been 5 more that have had equally as large of an impact as those.

Related: Location Rebel Academy

#7: Got Engaged and Bought a House

I lump these two together, because they happened on the same day.

On April 4th, 2014 when I both bought my first house and got engaged, I was terrified of what that would mean for my brand and business. After all, I was the  location rebel!  The guy that travels and works from anywhere.

Sean and Tate House 1

In front of our new house – 30 seconds before I proposed.

So to be settling down with both a house and a wife? I wasn’t sure how people would react…how  I  would react.

What I realized though is that building a lifestyle business is  not  about being able to work from anywhere. Rather it’s about being able to  do the things you want to do.  For some that might be travel (I still travel 3-4 months out of the year), for others it may not look that different than their current life with a day job.

But the fact I was able to do these things and  still  grow this brand and business was huge.

Related: A House, an Engagement, and a Huge Kick in the Ass

#8: Got Married

Sean and Tate Wedding Day

My wife Tate and I on our wedding day.

It’s one thing to get engaged, it’s another to get married.

The extra level of commitment and support, is huge. The intertwining of finances, the discussions about kids and futures.

It’s no longer just  you. 

And in my case having someone else to both share in the defining moments  and  the day to day moments as not only helped me to become more successful, but to be more fulfilled as well.

Related: Sudden Loss, New Beginnings, and Three Simple Words

#9: Started The Eighty Club

At the beginning of 2017 I finally decided to try and monetize my golf site Breaking Eighty . I did this through creating a community called The Eighty Club, which I created for members of private golf clubs around the world.

Slide11 Merion 1

Me at Merion Golf Club – one of the top 10 courses in the world.

Previously, while I’d had success here with Location Rebel Academy, and a bit of niche site success with HDR Software, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to build another business in another industry.

Seeing how well this has grown (we’re up to over 250 members), and the people it has brought together has fundamentally altered much of how I travel and how I approach my businesses these days.

Related: Rogue Financial Analyst Makes $34,000 a Year from Golf Business

#10: Began My Golf and My Bar Quest

For most people, these might seem at best a little odd, and at worse downright shallow.

Let’s face it elite golf courses and expensive cocktails aren’t exactly making the world a better place.

"Cashew Everything Around Me" - One of the top 50 bars in the world in Singapore.

“Cashew Everything Around Me” – 28 Hong Kong Street is one of the top 100 bars in the world.

However for me, these two things have taken me to places I’d never expect to go, introduced me to wonderful people, and helped me to add purpose and direction to my travels and websites.

As of this writing, I’ve played 52/100 of the Top 100 Golf Courses in America, 45/100 Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, and at it’s peak, I hit 59 of the top 100 bars in the world (based off the 2017 list).

Since adopting these I’ve changed how I travel, where I travel, who I travel with, and it’s made the journey that much more exciting and rewarding in the process.

#11: Shot the Desk

Of everything I’ve done at Location Rebel, the most interesting and the most defining may have been the video we shot called “The Desk”.

Work from anywhere, even in the middle of a desert

When we shot it, I had no idea how iconic it would become, or frankly, how much of our branding would be built around this concept.

The video proved to me that it’s worth it to do things a bit differently, and it also ended up being a once in a lifetime journey I got to take with my Dad and good friend, Jamie.

#12: Had a Baby

I tried really hard to keep this list to 10, but honestly? I’ve had 12 major defining moments in life, and this most recent one?

It’s by far the biggest.

This is one of the ultimate defining moments: having a kid.

Our daughter was born on January 5th, 2021. I had no idea what I was in for, how much my life would change, or how much love I was capable of giving. It’s been one of the ultimate defining moments in my life.

More than anything else, Elliot has changed my routines, my habits, and my thoughts.

I can’t wait to see the woman she becomes, and I’m more thankful than ever for these previous 10 moments. Because it was this path that has allowed me to spend so much time with her during the first year of her life.

Related: Turning 36 and Some Advice for New Parents

What is Your Most Defining Moment?

These are the moments that have shaped my life more than any others.  If it weren’t for these things I have no idea where I’d be.

So what are your life defining moments?   What’s led you to where you are? Or if you don’t feel that you’ve had a defining moment yet, what will it be? What do you need to do to make that happen?

Thank you for following along with me on my journey, as I continue to explore just how much is possible in life.

Want help building a lifestyle business that will help you do the exact same thing I’ve been able to do over the past 11+ years? I’d love to help you. Grab our free 6 day course and we’ll get started TODAY.

defining moment in life essay

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17 comments on " 12 Defining Moments in Life (and the Importance of Each) "

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Great moments, Sean. A few of mine:

– The first day I picked up a basketball at my cousin’s house as a 13 year old. Little did I know that I would become obsessed with the sport, and that obsession would lead me to become a web designer (so I could create a website about my favorite team), and live in New Orleans for three years (home of my favorite team, and one legendary city).

– Moving to the US on my own seven years ago. I knew nobody and I was extremely shy. My time there changed me immensely.

– Quitting my day job last December. I don’t think I could ever go back to being an employee now.

– Tomorrow, when I leave Ireland again and take my biggest leap yet. The plan is to circumnavigate the globe in three years, without flying. Should be one hell of an adventure 😉

Here’s to many more life defining moments for you, me, and all the other location rebels out there!

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Great post. There’s nothing so validating as looking back on your decisions and realizing just how far you’ve come.

Quitting my job & traveling around the world alone are on my list… now on to the business opportunities!

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Wow, this is an interesting thing to go back and think about (especially when you’re at the relatively-young age of 25). Here’s what I would say:

1) Transferring out of business school after 1 semester – I was unhappy and a little scared to make a big change, but I knew I had to do it. This taught me that it’s okay to take a leap sometimes, and that things can turn out okay even when we don’t know where we’re headed.

2) Discovering the world of internet business – I’m not how it even happened, but I stumbled across a blog about making money on the internet (in legit ways) about a year and a half ago. It’s changed my way of thinking and my life since.

3) Taking a whole summer off after grad school – Summer 2010 was literally the first summer in 11 years that I wasn’t employed in some way. And I loved it! I really enjoyed making plans on a whim and traveling to wherever I wanted to enjoy the great weather. It’s really what’s motivated me to out of the working world and unchain myself from a desk. I hope to repeat this in 2012.

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Hey Sean, Great reflective post. Nice to see the progressive moments to living the lifestyle you always wanted.

A few of mine: 1) Backpacking through Europe, then become a tour guide in Munich for three months. This helped me come out of my shell (I never was into public speaking), made me realise the type of people I want to be around, and expanded my thinking.

2) Exchange program in Japan which opened my eyes to a completely different culture and way of thinking, and solidified my passion for languages

3) Travelling to Africa last year. I can’t quite describe how this changed me yet, but I think about it most days and feel so lucky to have had the chance to go there.

Look forward to reading others’. Cheers, Trisatn.

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Nice! It’s been awesome to get to know you and be a part of your transition Sean.

A few of my life altering moments: 1) Meeting my wife online then 4 months later taking my first International trip to Indonesia to marry her. People thought I had gone off the deep end but we’ve been happily married 10 years now. 2) The birth of my boys – definitely life changing! 3) Reading Location 180 from the beginning and realizing there is so much more to life than what I’ve been experiencing. 4) Deciding to make the big move with the family to Indonesia where my wife and I plan to start a bakery (among other things).

I have to say I’m really interested to be following the global adventures of Niall.

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haha well its nice to see #3 on that list – but I have a feeling all of those other ones were much more defining moments than reading my blog haha. It’s been awesome to see your progress as well, and looking forward to seeing many more adventures in the coming months!

Loving your journey, too Matt! Some great moments you’ve had there. Here’s to many more 🙂

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Sounds like you’re having fun!

My most defining moment was getting a position at one of the companies I most wanted to work at after 55 interviews. I knew if I just survived for 10 years, I would be set. Being able to do what you want to do and earn a living is priceless.

That’s awesome to hear – there’s few great accomplishments than being able to make a living doing what you love in life.

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My decision to move from Michigan, where I’d lived my entire life, to Tahoe so I could ski more was definitely a defining moment. I’ll be giving this more thought; thank you for inspiring me to think about this.

Glad I could help Jill! Sounds like a move I’d love to make someday as well 🙂

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Without a doubt, my biggest moment was my double-lung transplant.

But, more than that, what really focussed me on life was discovering that death held no fear. I feared – dreaded – the process of dying, the idea that were my transplant not to come I would have endured a slow, suffocating death in a hospital bed with the anguished faces of my family looking on. Death itself had no sway over me.

Knowing that, and knowing now that this second chance is here to be grasped, helps motivate me to do even more with my life.

I want to know that the person who died and let me live with the most selfless choice one can make is looking down on me with pride at all I’m trying to do, whether or not I succeed or fail.

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My defining moment was when I had the courage to say to my colleague (in our mutual startup) out loud that I wanted to live location independently – and he responded: “Sure!”

That moment I knew I couldn’t turn back.

' src=

My defining moments hmmm. . . I’ve perhaps had a few more than you younger counterparts as I’ve been around the marble a few more times, LOL. This is what comes to mind:

#1 – at age 21 quitting my job working for another photographer (who shall remain nameless but suffice to say I learned how NOT to run a business from him). Going full-time at my own photography business (with my then boyfriend/husband) in the early 90’s during that recession. And we rocked it!

#2 – getting a divorce from above husband/partner in 2001 and leaving behind the studio I spent 12 years building. Having no idea what I’d do for income, a contract job being a rep for an international photography album supplier fell in my lap. Spent 9 years with them, travelling the world for them but meeting some great people and having a great time. Was my first real international travel when they took me to NZ to the offices there.

#3 – quitting the above job/contract (which paid a high 5 figures) in 2009 when I got remarried. Renting out our house for 6 months and travelled Canada/US in an RV.

#4 – now! reinventing myself yet again as a photography teacher this time. Once again I sort of fell into doing workshops locally and it’s given me confidence that I can do this and a possible ebook is in the works as well.

' src=

awesome and though-provoking post. my defining moments so far

-quitting my job to work and live in America -quitting that job to follow my heart all the way to Europe -quitting another job to go backpacking through Asia

wow, so far what has defined me as a person has been quitting to travel. thanks for the realization!

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defining moment in life essay

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How to define your defining moments.

Forbes Coaches Council

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One of the most impactful influences in my life was my grandmother. She would often say the most powerful thing you can do in life is to make a decision.

Six years ago, at 38, I decided to pursue an MBA at the University of Miami. I was fraught with fear, mostly because I completed my bachelor’s degree almost 15 years prior. However, I knew this decision would be a defining moment and have a significant effect on my life’s trajectory. I also knew that if I could do this, I would show my future children that anything is possible.

Two years later, my grandmother beamed as she watched me collect my well-earned graduate degree. I did it! Two years later, my grandmother, who encouraged and supported me, was diagnosed with lung cancer. One year later, almost to the day, she passed away. The pain was immeasurable, and the loss, irreplaceable.

In retrospect, these two defining moments have made me a more resilient, focused and agile leader. This is largely because I knew what constituted a defining moment and how to move forward.

What is a defining moment?

A defining moment is a point in your life when you're urged to make a pivotal decision, or when you experience something that fundamentally changes you. Not only do these moments define us, but they have a transformative effect on our perceptions and behaviors.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg powerfully wrote about one of her defining moments, the sudden death of her husband on vacation. Option B , the title of Sheryl’s book, is a roadmap on how to effectively define your defining moments: face the adversity, build resilience and find joy.

Moments that are truly defining will force you to ask “why," often challenge your beliefs/norms, and force you to behave differently.

How do leaders move forward?

Think of a moment when your true character was revealed, you had an opportunity to excel, or you saw something with greater clarity. Inevitably, the road of life will be bumpy, testing your commitment to your purpose. But some individuals see bumps in the road of life as obstacles, while some see them as opportunities.

Leaders quickly recognize their defining moments and move forward by:

1. Being resilient and embracing adversity:  The irony of a defining moment is that if you don’t define it, it will surely define you. View these moments as an opportunity to learn and grow, and do not let them make you stagnant. Compartmentalize the moment and quickly find purpose. For example, my grandmother’s rapid demise made me a highly committed cancer advocate.

2. Acknowledging fear:  Best-selling author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss says , “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” The beauty of a defining moment is that it usually forces us to face our fears head on and take action. I can personally attest to how scary it is, but also how much better you will become. Acknowledging fear helps mitigate the potential paralyzing effects.

3. Q uickly recalibrating:  Recalibrating is a function of taking an honest assessment of where you are. To move forward, we often need to know why something occurred. But sometimes, we can't identify our why as quickly as we would like. With stillness and meditation come clarity and answers. Yoga is a great way to process an event, calm the mind, and figure out what to do next. Your why is the foundation for building your action plan to move forward. It is essential to think beyond the defining moment and open yourself up to the innumerable lessons.

4. Creating a (solutions-based) action plan:  Billionaire magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor Elon Musk is known for creating action plans . From a business perspective, action plans are essential to help us benchmark progress. For me, prior to entering graduate school, I did a personal SWOT analysis to assess my skill sets and gaps. By doing this, I was able to begin my studies with the end in mind, fully aware of what was required of me to complete my studies successfully. Your plan doesn't have to be complex, but it must be specific. It's your roadmap for moving forward, and it lets you know how far you have come.

So long as we identify them quickly and make the decision to move forward, we all have the ability to define our defining moments. Will you?

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Defining moments can have a significant impact on our lives. Do you have one to share?

Defining moments: share an experience that has shaped your values

Many of us have had at least one experience that has influenced who we are and what we care about. Tell us about one of yours

You make thousands of decisions every day. Some are simple, such as hitting snooze on the alarm clock or choosing what to eat for breakfast, while others – like deciding who to marry, or what career to pursue – require deep reflection, thought and analysis.

Each choice shapes what is to come in some small way, but occasionally, a decision has the magnitude to be life changing. This kind of moment can change who we are and what we value, with reverberations throughout our careers and personal lives.

While it’s still up for debate exactly how much of our morality comes from personal experiences , many of us can think of at least one experience that has defined us and our beliefs.

Lain Hensley, chief operating officer at Odyssey Teams, recalls the fear and loneliness he felt when he was diagnosed with cancer , for example. His illness exposed weaknesses in his leadership and as a result, he writes, he has become “a better man, husband, father, employer, speaker and friend”.

Other influential moments can come down to a single conversation. After her boss, former Las Vegas mayor Jan Jones, pointed out in a speech at a gala that Gwen Migita was afraid that she wouldn’t be accepted if she was honest about her partner at work, she found the courage to be open about her sexuality. Migita went from hiding her real self at work to setting up the gaming industry’s first LGBT employee group and publicly marrying her partner.

Now it’s your turn

Tell us about a defining moment in your life. It can be an experience that shaped your values, a conversation that determined your career, an event that changed the course of your life or anything else that you believe has defined who you are.

Submit a short blog post of no more than 600 words describing the experience and how it has influenced you. Let us know if you’d like to submit audio or video by checking the appropriate box below.

Once you’ve sent us your story, we’ll get back to you and let you know if you’ve been selected for publication on the Guardian. We’re looking forward to hearing your stories!

The values-led business hub is funded by SC Johnson. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled ‘brought to you by’. Find out more here .

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Home — Application Essay — Business School — My life defining moment: College Admission Essay Sample

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My life defining moment: College Admission Essay Sample

  • University: American University

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Words: 486 |

Published: Jul 18, 2018

Words: 486 | Pages: 1 | 3 min read

My mother was diagnosed with cancer. It all started in April of my sophomore year when she complained of exhaustion, nausea, a back ache, and bad breath. I remember the day perfectly. It was Easter morning and my mom was scheduled for a procedure to examine what was predicted to be a blockage in her bile duct; it was also the Easter we found out that it wasn’t a blockage or build up, but rather a tumor. A tumor that would require four surgeries, three months in intensive care, and the rearranging of her whole digestive system. But out of those one hundred and twenty two days spent in ICU alone, the moment that sticks out in my mind was the day I walked in and no longer saw my mother.

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The woman that was in front of me in no way physically, mentally, or emotionally resembled the strong female figure that raised me. Her once fiery red hair was now dulled. Her porcelain white skin looked grayish. I was scared to hug her or even touch her because her once sturdy body now looked so breakable. They barely fed her. All they gave her to eat were ice chips. The moment I walked in ready to tell her about my day at school, I could hear her begging, pleading for more ice chips. She had already sneaked in more than she should have, and when she thought no one was looking, she would drink the forbidden water that would melt into the bottom of the bowl. In that instance, a bitter sweet feeling overcame me: that was the woman I knew and loved; she saw what she wanted and went after it. That feeling soon disappeared. I heard her scream out in agony “It hurts, don’t do that, it hurts" as the nurses pierced her skin with a pain reliever. I've always disliked injections, but that made me loathe them. When it became too much to bear, my father ushered me out of the room.

That was the day of her first emergency surgery, and the day she almost didn’t come back alive. I remember feeling so helpless, as if I was a child again. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t a child. My mother had raised me to become an intelligent, mature, and brave young woman. In that moment, I would have to act as the person my mother raised me to be; a person my mother would be proud of. In this difficult time, I learned a lot about myself. I learned I possessed as inner strength. I learned to be patient, and to ignore all the petty dilemmas I once deemed life altering. I learned how to deal with fear, frustration, injections, and surgeries. But most importantly, in seeing my mother's fierce bravery and independence, I learned that I was very much like her.

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defining moment in life essay

defining moment in life essay

Defining Moments

First published in Haiku Canada Review 16:1, February 2022, pages 4–7. Originally written in May of 2020 as a postscript to my essay “A Haiku Writer’s Time: Learning from Kenneth Atchity.” Expanded and revised in September of 2020 and in August and December of 2021. See also “Aha Moments and the Miracle of Haiku,” “Taking a Bite: The Haiku McMoment,” and “A Moment in the Sun: When Is a Haiku?"

“By the time a thing is

  noticed, it has happened.”

“When you write you do not know whether you are obeying the moment or eternity.”

—Edmond Jabès

“This spectacular thing, the dream of all poetry, to cut a hole in time.”

—Mary Ruefle

“Wonder is the heaviest element in the periodic table of the heart.

  Even a tiny piece of it can stop time.”

—Diane Ackerman

In his book In Praise of Wasting Time (New York: TED Books/Simon & Schuster, 2018), Alan Lightman writes a chapter on “Chronos and Kairos.” He defines these terms from ancient Greece in ways that may be relevant to writers of haiku. “ Chronos is clock time,” he says, “quantitative time . . . sequential time . . . relentless time” (73). In contrast, kairos “is time created by events,” and he says that “ Kairos time is forever. It is the time of memory. It is the time of being” (73). Or as Frank Kermode wrote in his epilogue to The Sense of an Ending (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1967, 2000), “within human time one can distinguish between the chronos of mere successiveness and the kairos of high days and holidays, times or seasons that stand out (red-letter days, as one used to say) as belonging to a different temporal order” (192). It would seem, in fact, that haiku poets seek kairos time amid chronos time. A haiku may look like it is recording chronos time , but its deeper goal is to discover, uncover, or at least to suggest kairos, that different temporal order that infuses the best haiku with transcendence. Haiku seeks to capture quotidian moments of chronos time, to be sure, but what the poem releases is kairos time—the eternal, the momentous. As Thoreau said, “Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Or as Edward Hirsch put it in The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Orlando, Florida: Harvest/Harcourt, 2002, 163), “The epiphanic experience ruptures time.” Or, more gently, as Bob Dylan once said, “The purpose of art is to stop time.” And as Charles Simic said, narrowing the focus, “The secret ambition of all lyric poetry is to stop time.” And to narrow the focus even further, so too of haiku, releasing the timeless.

         first snow . . .

         the children’s hangers

         clatter in the closet

     Additional thoughts on this topic may be found in The Postman’s Round (Toronto: The Dundurn Group, 2005, translated from the French by Liedewy Hawke, 2008; republished as The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman , London: Oneworld, 2017). In this magical novel by Denis Thériault, in which haiku figures prominently, its readers are reminded that “haiku sought to juxtapose the permanent and the ephemeral” (45). Using Japanese terms, Thériault’s protagonist explains that haiku seeks “the delicate balance between fueki —the permanent, eternity extending beyond us—and ryuko —the fleeting, the ephemeral that passes through us” (46). These terms have also been described as immutability and fluidity, or as constancy and change. In many ways, chronos time equates to ryuko , kairos to fueki , and haiku is a marriage of both. It takes a moment to notice haiku, as both writer and reader, but in haiku a moment’s notice is noticing more than just the moment.

         first star—

         a seashell held

         to my baby’s ear

     The dictionary defines kairos as “a propitious moment for decision or action.” A defining moment. Haiku poets present moments of time, moments of heightened awareness. They may not be highlighting instances of decision or action but simply isness or suchness—the fleeting and ephemeral. And yet, aren’t such moments in haiku also moments of decision or taking action? On one level, haiku poets decide to appreciate the ordinariness of each moment, recognizing that certain moments may well be as propitious as others. And yet, the dictionary definition does not say kairos is a moment of decision but a moment for decision—a moment at which one could or perhaps should make a decision. So, on another level, the moment in the poem, as with every moment in life, can be a moment of choice. When another player passes a soccer ball to you in front of the net, you may have one propitious moment to swing your foot to score a goal. That’s a sort of kairos time, made even more momentous if the score is tied and a championship game is in its last minute of overtime play. But the haiku poet recognizes the subtler moments before and after as being equally momentous, of having a different kind of value—the way the ball rolls on freshly cut grass, or the way a waning sun angling through the bleachers catches that part of the playing field. And through each instant in time lies a path to the timeless, if the haiku poet can find it. In How to Write a Haiku (n.p.: Verborum Editions, 2016, 37), David Lindley says, “We might in fact redefine the haiku as the art of recognising the universal in the particular, of apprehending something enduring at the centre of transitory experience.”

         first frost . . .

         the downy woodpecker

         stops a moment

     Rather than being moments of here and now, though presented as such, haiku poems are more accurately understood as moments of history , as I’ve explored in my essay, “Haiku as History: The Ultimate Short Story” ( Modern Haiku , 1998). All haiku are moments from the past (even if very recent) presented as if in the present. The idea is that haiku offers these moments on silver platters, claiming that they matter, each one brimming with “existential gratitude,” as Billy Collins has described haiku. Or as Carl Jung once wrote, “If our religion is based on wonder, our chief emotion will be gratitude.” In this way, haiku can convert chronos time to kairos time, balancing ryuko with fueki , deepening our gratitude for the momentous value of highlighted events in ordinary life, moving them from the timely to the timeless, asserting that all moments are defining moments.

Is a robot writing your kids’ essays?

Educators weigh in on the growing role of ai and chatgpt in classrooms..

Kara Baskin talked to several educators about what kind of AI use they’re seeing in classrooms and how they’re monitoring it.

Remember writing essays in high school? Chances are you had to look up stuff in an encyclopedia — an actual one, not Wikipedia — or else connect to AOL via a modem bigger than your parents’ Taurus station wagon.

Now, of course, there’s artificial intelligence. According to new research from Pew, about 1 in 5 US teens who’ve heard of ChatGPT have used it for schoolwork. Kids in upper grades are more apt to have used the chatbot: About a quarter of 11th- and 12th-graders who know about ChatGPT have tried it.

For the uninitiated, ChatGPT arrived on the scene in late 2022, and educators continue to grapple with the ethics surrounding its growing popularity. Essentially, it generates free, human-like responses based on commands. (I’m sure this sentence will look antiquated in about six months, like when people described the internet as the “information superhighway.”)


I used ChatGPT to plug in this prompt: “Write an essay on ‘The Scarlet Letter.’” Within moments, ChatGPT created an essay as thorough as anything I’d labored over in AP English.

Is this cheating? Is it just part of our strange new world? I talked to several educators about what they’re seeing in classrooms and how they’re monitoring it. Before you berate your child over how you wrote essays with a No. 2 pencil, here are some things to consider.

Adapting to new technology isn’t immoral. “We have to recalibrate our sense of what’s acceptable. There was a time when every teacher said: ‘Oh, it’s cheating to use Wikipedia.’ And guess what? We got used to it, we decided it’s reputable enough, and we cite Wikipedia all the time,” says Noah Giansiracusa, an associate math professor at Bentley University who hosts the podcast “ AI in Academia: Navigating the Future .”

“There’s a calibration period where a technology is new and untested. It’s good to be cautious and to treat it with trepidation. Then, over time, the norms kind of adapt,” he says — just like new-fangled graphing calculators or the internet in days of yore.

“I think the current conversation around AI should not be centered on an issue with plagiarism. It should be centered on how AI will alter methods for learning and expressing oneself. ‘Catching’ students who use fully AI-generated products ... implies a ‘gotcha’ atmosphere,” says Jim Nagle, a history teacher at Bedford High School. “Since AI is already a huge part of our day-to-day lives, it’s no surprise our students are making it a part of their academic tool kit. Teachers and students should be at the forefront of discussions about responsible and ethical use.”

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Teachers and parents could use AI to think about education at a higher level. Really, learning is about more than regurgitating information — or it should be, anyway. But regurgitation is what AI does best.

“If our system is just for students to write a bunch of essays and then grade the results? Something’s missing. We need to really talk about their purpose and what they’re getting out of this, and maybe think about different forms of assignments and grading,” Giansiracusa says.

After all, while AI aggregates and organizes ideas, the quality of its responses depends on the users’ prompts. Instead of recoiling from it, use it as a conversation-starter.

“What parents and teachers can do is to start the conversation with kids: ‘What are we trying to learn here? Is it even something that ChatGPT could answer? Why did your assignment not convince you that you need to do this thinking on your own when a tool can do it for you?’” says Houman Harouni , a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Harouni urges parents to read an essay written by ChatGPT alongside their student. Was it good? What could be done better? Did it feel like a short cut?

“What they’re going to remember is that you had that conversation with them; that someone thought, at some point in their lives, that taking a shortcut is not the best way ... especially if you do it with the tool right in front of you, because you have something real to talk about,” he says.

Harouni hopes teachers think about its implications, too. Consider math: So much grunt work has been eliminated by calculators and computers. Yet kids are still tested as in days of old, when perhaps they could expand their learning to be assessed in ways that are more personal and human-centric, leaving the rote stuff to AI.

“We could take this moment of confusion and loss of certainty seriously, at least in some small pockets, and start thinking about what a different kind of school would look like. Five years from now, we might have the beginnings of some very interesting exploration. Five years from now, you and I might be talking about schools wherein teaching and learning is happening in a very self-directed way, in a way that’s more based on … igniting the kid’s interest and seeing where they go and supporting them to go deeper and to go wider,” Harouni says.

Teachers have the chance to offer assignments with more intentionality.

“Really think about the purpose of the assignments. Don’t just think of the outcome and the deliverable: ‘I need a student to produce a document.’ Why are we getting students to write? Why are we doing all these things in the first place? If teachers are more mindful, and maybe parents can also be more mindful, I think it pushes us away from this dangerous trap of thinking about in terms of ‘cheating,’ which, to me, is a really slippery path,” Giansiracusa says.

AI can boost confidence and reduce procrastination. Sometimes, a robot can do something better than a human, such as writing a dreaded resume and cover letter. And that’s OK; it’s useful, even.

“Often, students avoid applying to internships because they’re just overwhelmed at the thought of writing a cover letter, or they’re afraid their resume isn’t good enough. I think that tools like this can help them feel more confident. They may be more likely to do it sooner and have more organized and better applications,” says Kristin Casasanto, director of post-graduate planning at Olin College of Engineering.

Casasanto says that AI is also useful for de-stressing during interview prep.

“Students can use generative AI to plug in a job description and say, ‘Come up with a list of interview questions based on the job description,’ which will give them an idea of what may be asked, and they can even then say, ‘Here’s my resume. Give me answers to these questions based on my skills and experience.’ They’re going to really build their confidence around that,” Casasanto says.

Plus, when students use AI for basics, it frees up more time to meet with career counselors about substantive issues.

“It will help us as far as scalability. … Career services staff can then utilize our personal time in much more meaningful ways with students,” Casasanto says.

We need to remember: These kids grew up during a pandemic. We can’t expect kids to resist technology when they’ve been forced to learn in new ways since COVID hit.

“Now we’re seeing pandemic-era high school students come into college. They’ve been channeled through Google Classroom their whole career,” says Katherine Jewell, a history professor at Fitchburg State University.

“They need to have technology management and information literacy built into the curriculum,” Jewell says.

Jewell recently graded a paper on the history of college sports. It was obvious which papers were written by AI: They didn’t address the question. In her syllabus, Jewell defines plagiarism as “any attempt by a student to represent the work of another, including computers, as their own.”

This means that AI qualifies, but she also has an open mind, given students’ circumstances.

“My students want to do the right thing, for the most part. They don’t want to get away with stuff. I understand why they turned to these tools; I really do. I try to reassure them that I’m here to help them learn systems. I’m focusing much more on the learning process. I incentivize them to improve, and I acknowledge: ‘You don’t know how to do this the first time out of the gate,’” Jewell says. “I try to incentivize them so that they’re improving their confidence in their abilities, so they don’t feel the need to turn to these tools.”

Understand the forces that make kids resort to AI in the first place . Clubs, sports, homework: Kids are busy and under pressure. Why not do what’s easy?

“Kids are so overscheduled in their day-to-day lives. I think there’s so much enormous pressure on these kids, whether it’s self-inflicted, parent-inflicted, or school-culture inflicted. It’s on them to maximize their schedule. They’ve learned that AI can be a way to take an assignment that would take five hours and cut it down to one,” says a teacher at a competitive high school outside Boston who asked to remain anonymous.

Recently, this teacher says, “I got papers back that were just so robotic and so cold. I had to tell [students]: ‘I understand that you tried to use a tool to help you. I’m not going to penalize you, but what I am going to penalize you for is that you didn’t actually answer the prompt.”

Afterward, more students felt safe to come forward to say they’d used AI. This teacher hopes that age restrictions become implemented for these programs, similar to apps such as Snapchat. Educationally and developmentally, they say, high-schoolers are still finding their voice — a voice that could be easily thwarted by a robot.

“Part of high school writing is to figure out who you are, and what is your voice as a writer. And I think, developmentally, that takes all of high school to figure out,” they say.

And AI can’t replicate voice and personality — for now, at least.

Kara Baskin can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @kcbaskin .

Screen Rant

Even saving his parents couldn't stop bruce wayne from becoming batman.

One of the most tragic moments in Bruce Wayne's life was the death of his parents, but even saving them couldn't prevent him from becoming Batman.

  • Many stories have forced Bruce Wayne to confront the progential trauma of his superhero career, the murder of his parents, though the storyline depicted in Superman/Batman #16 is one of the most unique, as Batman inadvertently erased himself from continuity by saving the Waynes from Joe Chill.
  • Trauma shaped Batman, but even avoiding the defining moment of his parents' murder wasn't enough to prevent him from becoming a hero, as Superman/Batman #16 proved when Clark brought a non-superhero Bruce back to Crime Alley and forced him to confront Batman's core trauma.
  • Despite alternative timelines where Batman didn't witness his parents' death, he still became Batman after his encounter with Superman in Crime Alley, though he critically lacked the years of dedicated training and experience that Batman is famous for, making him more vulnerable than normal.

Batman was born from the trauma of Bruce Wayne seeing his parents gunned down in front of him at a young age. One might assume that if this tragedy never happened, Bruce Wayne would never become Batman – but according to DC, that's apparently not the case. In one story, even with his parents alive, Superman still convinced Bruce Wayne to become Batman.

In Superman/Batman #16 – by Jeph Loeb and Carlos Pacheco – Superman and Batman were forced to witness their own origins stories. Superman was deeply moved by witnessing the Kents take him in from that rocket ship, with Clark instantly regaining his memories of his original history upon witnessing it.

Batman didn't handle his origin nearly as well. Instead of simply standing by and watching Thomas and Martha Wayne be murdered , Batman immediately sprang into action, disarming Joe Chill and even shooting him in the head, which promptly erased Batman from history .

DC Confirms Bruce Wayne's Parents Would Not Want Him To Be Batman

When Bruce Wayne's parents were gunned down in front of him, it traumatized him in a way he has never been able to get over...The entirety of Batman's identity was shaped by that trauma, but even avoiding this defining moment wasn't enough to prevent Bruce from becoming the Caped Crusader.

This Story Forced Bruce Wayne To Face His Childhood Trauma To Reclaim His Identity

Superman/batman #16 – written by jeph loeb; art by carlos pacheco, jesus merino, laura martin, & richard starkings..

When Bruce Wayne's parents were gunned down in front of him, it traumatized him in a way he has never been able to get over. Not only did this event inspire Bruce to eventually become the crime fighter known as Batman, but it also deeply traumatized Bruce, giving him an aversion to guns and death. Batman refuses to use guns , and will avoid using lethal force no matter the circumstances. The entirety of Batman's identity was shaped by that trauma, but even avoiding this defining moment wasn't enough to prevent Bruce from becoming the Caped Crusader.

In Superman/Batman #16, after Batman erased himself from existence, Superman traveled back to the present, where the world had been completely taken over by Ra's al Ghul. Desperate, Superman confronted this timeline's Bruce Wayne, who grew up with his parents, and seemed to be as perfectly well-adjusted as a billionaire can be. Superman forced Bruce to return to Crime Alley, where Bruce somehow remembers the trauma of his parent's death, despite this version of Bruce never actually experiencing that. It's a very strange explanation due to time travel, but the end result was Bruce regaining his memories and becoming Batman once more.

Superman/Batman #16 made it very clear that this timeline's Bruce Wayne was not Batman...In effect, this version was like a Multiversal echo of the Dark Knight.

Bruce Wayne's Trauma Reverberates Through The DC Multiverse

Superman/Batman #16 made it very clear that this timeline's Bruce Wayne was not Batman . Despite remembering the trauma that he didn't experience, he never took on the training to become Batman that the main timeline version did. In effect, this version was like a Multiversal echo of the Dark Knight. While this Bruce was certainly in shape, he went on to be easily defeated by Ra's al Ghul in the comic, ith Bruce explicitly stating that he isn't the hero Superman needed him to be.

While not the cleanest of DC's time travel adventures , this story did work to emphasize that Batman as some core, latent heroic part of Bruce Wayne does exist whether or not he witnessed his parents murder – though without years of training, Bruce Wayne isn't nearly as effective a crimefighter as he could be. Even with Bruce managing to stop Joe Chill from murdering his parents, somehow, he still ended up becoming Batman , though the comic made it clear that the journey is as important to his heroic identity as the destination.

Superman/Batman #16 is available now from DC Comics!


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