“None of this would have happened if we’d not hit the rails in 1982. That hobo trip dictated the course of the rest of our professional lives.”
What is somewhat magical (and also frustrating!) about the events that affect the paths of our lives is that they are impossible to predict. Sometimes we don’t even know they’ve passed until years later. When we’re young, this can be hard to imagine. Growing up, many of us are molded to believe that careful planning will guarantee achievement, success and ultimately happiness. In high school, counselors encourage extracurricular activities that will increase our chances of getting accepted into college. In college, we are expected to declare a major that will lead to the right internship, which will in turn land us that first perfect job after graduation. We are told to calculate the exact trajectories of our futures again and again.
But life doesn’t always work that way. Looking back, journalists Dale Maharidge and Michael S. Williamson never predicted that one random assignment for The Sacramento Bee would dictate the rest of their lives. When the two young men hopped on the back of a freight train for a story in the 1980s, they had no idea that this was their Moment, the event that would singularly shape both themselves and their careers. In fact, if you’d asked them back then what their life-changing Moment was they probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you—which reminds me, have you had your Moment yet? Share yours on The Moment project.