Tag Archives: the decisive moment

When the decisive moment creates a story

Mom and Dad with baby

An example of a decisive moment worthy of a backstory — the father’s hand and the mother’s kiss show the tenderness they feel towards their baby. Ok, so it’s a posed photo, but you get the idea. Image courtesy of pressto44, Morguefile.

Have you ever witnessed one of those moments in real life that fired up your writer’s imagination and made you yearn to write a backstory for it? It’s funny how those moments appear out of nowhere, just when you’re least expecting them.

Years ago, I was walking through Heathrow Airport on my way back home, when I spotted a young Asian couple hugging each other. I don’t know exactly what it was about these two that captured my attention, but I still remember that moment after all this time. Maybe it was their absolute stillness since the other travelers were too busy to dawdle and intent on getting somewhere else. Perhaps it was the tightness of the hug or the fact that their eyes were shut as if they were both undergoing strong feelings. For some reason, there was an atmosphere of intense emotion about this couple who appeared to be in their early twenties.

I often wonder what their backstory was. Were they reuniting after a long period of being apart? Was one of them going back home, never to be seen by the other again? Maybe they were brother and sister; maybe they were boyfriend and girlfriend. I’ll never know. But something compelled me to watch them for a moment, even though I only gave them a quick look before I passed by on my way to catch my plane.

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of modern photojournalism, called a moment like this “the decisive moment”. ┬áHe specialized in capturing these real-life moments, because these moments are how someone defines their true character.

As a writer, I like to witness these great moments whenever I see them. Give me long enough, and I could probably work up an entire book of short stories based on them. But for now, I’m just doing a blog post.

With social media, it’s now become easier for people to share these moments with one another. A friend of mine shared this fun video from Coca-Cola from her Facebook page. Yes, it’s advertising a product (and no, neither one of us works for that company), but it goes a step further in showing some of the best moments of humanity all over the world: compassion, friendship, love, affection, goofiness, caring and more.

Enjoy it, people, and have a good Thanksgiving.



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