I remember when I taught 6th grade for 13 years that I would always have a heart-to-heart talk with my students near the end of the school year. These kids, all that and a bag-of-chips, thought they were on top of the world. They were after all, the ‘big kids on campus.’ I knew what they were about to go experience in middle school, and in my personal experience, it wasn’t going to be fun.

Time and again we find ourselves in similar circumstances and sometimes these circumstances are repetitive with a predictable pattern. Other times we experience an unexpected, enjoyable nuance in the pattern and that single nuance could just be the key factor in creating a memorable moment. This phenomenon typically goes unnoticed until years later we find ourselves thinking ‘Wow, that period in my life was something else!’

Circumstances and/or events can be repeated in life, but they cannot be replicated.

Pity, we may think, because those moments in time were so joyous. That is what makes those moments so memorable. The unexpected key nuance that becomes embedded in our mind, in our human being. Those are our Defining Moments. And defining moments do not grow on trees.

My sixth graders, most of whom can hardly wait until the end of the school year, always find themselves in eager anticipation to just be ‘done’ with school. I tell them that one day they will realize the days of school were actually the easy part of life. I go on to say “There are some things in life that you only do once. Sixth grade is one of them. Relish this time, soak in as much of it as possible. You won’t do this again, ever. So allow yourself the opportunity to realize just how special this time and place really is.”