I put together this video to illustrate the concept of turning points—moments in a life story when an event causes a disturbance, and life changes course in unexpected ways. The story line in the video is a simplified version of Becoming Madame Texier. Although the title of the book references me, the narrator, the story begins with Patrick's great-grandfather, Rogers Davis, an American painter. Among the turning points:
Young man goes off to seek his fortune
Rogers Davis, the elder son of an American industrialist, decides not to go into the family business (car upholstery) and instead sails to France to study painting in Paris.
Boy meets girl
In Paris, Rogers meets Hélèna, a French seamstress and artists' model. She gives birth to their only child, Mireille.
Tragedy strikes: Young man dies!
Rogers dies of a cerebral hemorrhage just as his career is becoming firmly established. Mireille grows up barely having known her father.
Young man goes off to seek fortune
Mireille's child, Patrick, wants to be a painter like his American grandfather. Problem: Patrick's father, Maurice, wants his son to be an engineer. Instead, Patrick runs away to Africa.
Boy meets girl
In Tanzania, Patrick meets Sara, an American travel writer. Hometown: Randolph, Vermont. They fall in love, get married, and move to America.
Happy ending: Legacy fulfilled!
The couple find their way to Randolph, where Patrick opens an art gallery and becomes an American citizen. The boy who wanted to become a painter instead establishes a gathering place for artists and their friends, thus fulfilling the legacy of his grandfather, Rogers Davis.
But . . . but . . . how did a girl from Randolph wind up in the Serengeti? And what happened in the more than three decades between Patrick's and Sara's separate arrivals in Africa? And what did Sara's mother, Idora, say when Sara returned to Randolph in the company of a French safari guide and his little boy who, though adorable, was very obviously not American and not even really very French? Don't worry—it's all in the book, available from Amazon.
Examine your past for turning points—moments when a disturbance of some sort caused your life to take an unexpected turn. Make a list.
Pick one turning point from your list and write a page or two about it from two perspectives: (1) your immediate response to the "disturbance"—how you felt about it at the time, and (2) how you view the same event today. Has time altered your perception, and if so, how?