Questions about turning points: What happened next?

Robert Frost famously wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by / And that has made all the difference”. When I’m interviewing the elderly I ask them to react to this quote:

  • What’s your first response to this statement?

  • Does it reflect on any choices in your own life?

Interesting stuff isn’t it? But asking about the turning points in a person’s life can feel awkward, especially if it is your mother, father, brother or grandparent.

  • Am I being too personal?

  • How will they react?

  • Can I ask about the bad points as well as the good?

But it’s important to ask these tough questions. Why do I think this? Because I really want to know what their turning points were and more importantly - I want to know how my subject handled that turning point. Read my blog post on asking questions to get tips on asking the tough stuff https://www.alastingtale.com/news/2018/9/4/interview-the-elderly

I’ve just read Leigh Sale’s book Any Ordinary Day and her premise is this: I don’t want to know what happened on the day of the life-changing event. I want to know what happened the day after the event. And the day after that. And the next. You can check out the book here https://www.penguin.com.au/books/any-ordinary-day-9780143789963

I think finding out what happened after a turning point is the most interesting part of the story. I’ve been asking my elderly interview subjects - What happened as the event was occurring? But more importantly, how do you feel about it now?

My question series Turning Points, examines the two types of turning points in a life. A choice, and an unexpected event. You can access it here https://www.alastingtale.com/shop/turning-points. Our risk and regret question set looks at how regret is managed, and how a life is lived after regret. Check it out here https://www.alastingtale.com/shop/risk-and-regret