Lately I’ve noticed the increasing appearance of inflection point. This new 1 buzzword signals that we’ve ridden the arc of our society downward, and are at the point where the direction of our nation is turning upward again. Commentators usually name a specific event as a possible arc-turning moment. An inflection point clearly divides before from after, and carries an implicitly hopeful message.
So, the January 6th insurrection attempt at the nation’s Capitol building could be an inflection point involving the course of democracy. Herd immunity from COVID19 might be achieved when about 75% of the population is vaccinated—a possible inflection point. The verdict in the George Floyd murder trial may be an inflection point in racial justice.
Getting married, entering grad school, becoming a parent, writing my first book, finishing chemotherapy, retiring—personal inflection points. In my life, each career-related move to a different part of the country was an inflection point. Looking back, I can now see how each of these events was life-changing.
2 In retrospect, I recognize even-smaller moments when profound change may have begun. A surprising phone call, chance encounter, new friend, 3 health diagnosis or worship experience—each of them an occasion when my life 4 turned on a dime. Which leads me to conclude that any moment in life could have been an inflection point.
How to think about all these possible pivot points? Admit that I won’t recognize them until after their significance has played out. Live every moment as though it is an inflection point—a time when significant change might begin. And then—cherishing that very-real possibility—to do what worker bees have always done: Share the news with those around me.
With joy, gratitude and expectancy….
1 Buzzword calls up interesting etymological images related to bees. As they return from nectar-gathering, worker bees communicate with those who gather around them in what seems like a dance—a buzz-dance. No words involved, but the message is transmitted: Here’s what’s going on right now in the nectar-gathering world outside this hive. The information leads to implicit invitations to action.
2 This is one satisfying part of remembering—charting how a seemingly insignificant event, conversation, invitation, book or sermon started a process of change that continues. What comes to mind right now: The generous mentors who walked alongside me.
3 Not all inflection points are completely positive. Advancing age can foreshadow a gradual diminishing of health. Unseen and unknown dangers lurk as possible inflection points. Climate change seems to be a collection of small inflection points, each of which may determine changes in my lifestyle.
4 This idiom may have a rich and storied cultural history, but there doesn’t seem to be an inflection point when its meaning changed the history of slang or colloquial speech. In fact, the expression rightly deserves the “archaic” designation in some dictionaries. I use it here as a way of thanking linguistic ancestors for colorful figures of speech!