To Create the Elevator Pitch for Our Life, We Create Moments

Four months ago Seth Levine told me, "Life isn’t event-driven, it’s on a continuum." I didn’t know what exactly what it meant, but I knew it was brilliant, so I immediately scribbled it down on my BlackBerry. For a month or two that very sentence sat on my BlackBerry "Notes." And then I transferred it to my "things to blog" list on a sticky on my computer. Yet I wasn’t quite sure how to articulate the meaning, so it just sat there.

Yesterday, with the help of a class discussion, I had the "aha!".

Life is random. Life happens, we react. Of course, this is a far too messy story to tell someone when meeting for the first time, so we construct our own life elevator pitch. I know my own pitch for who I am and how I got here makes a lot of narrative sense – one thing leads to another, I learned lessons at stage A which allowed me to reach stage B, etc. Of course, then there are those "defining moments" or "breakthrough insights" which made you choose one path and not the other, and you’re life’s never been the same.

This is all bullshit. Most of us don’t have pivotal moments, we just have pivotal chapters in our life, which was mainly us reacting to life’s circumstances.

On college applications we’re supposed to search for that moment and extract every last bit of meaning out of it as possible. Yikes.

We think about our life as if it were event-driven or moment-driven because it’s convenient to tell it that way, proably reflects the way our brain needs memory anchors, and because we’re natural storytellers: we all love good stories, and our lives should be no different.

2 comments on “To Create the Elevator Pitch for Our Life, We Create Moments
  • Hey Ben,

    At the risk of reading like a cliche, D. Chopra wrote:

    “Life is a play handed to you one line at a time.”

    The fact that the college apps ask you to recount a single moment in your life (or event, or chapter, or whatever) as momentous is a super good sign that they are desiring for a future that is a derivative of their past. No matter how much you know of any one event in the course of your life, you NEVER know what it really will result in.

    Candidly, I don’t even believe that life is a continuum. I also don’t believe that it is event driven.

    You’re right about the energy around needing to fame it one or both (or an infinite number) of those ways.

    Eternity (and originality by the way) is now and then it vanishes into the next moment, completely new and original.

    I love telling stories but the love, not the stories is what connects me to the eternal.


  • Hmm. I disagree.

    There have been specific words spoken to me that have rung in my ears countless times afterwards and totally changed the way I reacted to situations from that moment forward. Could a chapter-based lens capture this? Yes — that would entail stepping back and looking at Moment X + 60 Days, and instead of just seeing Moment X, it also would capture the way that Moment X interacted with the following ‘chapter’ of time. But that doesn’t mean that Moment X wasn’t the ‘difference that made the difference’.

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