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Lifelines: Iconic Memories and Sunrises Yet to Come

November 8th, 2014 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, is the story of my life already cast in stone or is the denouement yet to come?

I have been encouraged recently to examine my lifeline – the path my life has taken including the peaks and valleys. It is an interesting exercise to cast a backward glance and reflect on the watershed moments.

We each have our predisposition to certain behaviours. But genetics is not necessarily destiny. Who we are today is in many ways the sum total of our life experiences.

The rapid fire pace of modern life makes it challenging to indulge in a retrospective life scan. Many days it takes all my mental resources to simply keep my head above water as the waves of life keep cresting higher. Life seems to be at a perpetual high tide in these times.

One of my favourite comic strip scenes is a single Ziggy frame. Ziggy is sitting at a desk with papers piled high all around him. The quotation reads “I’m going to stop trying to get ahead so I can slow down the rate at which I’m falling behind.”

I have learned that memory is also quite a unique process for each of us. Some people can remember, with remarkable clarity, moments from their earliest childhood years. These moments have become imprinted in their consciousness.

I do not seem to have that range of recall. I have a handful of iconic memories from my early years. But episodes my siblings remember often draw a complete blank from me. I seem to have passed over these moments and let them slide away rather than imprint them.

As revealing as it is to trace our lifeline, I believe it needs to remain a conscious exercise and not develop into an obsession.

Quite often I open my e-mail inbox and see a bunch of “Undelivered mail returned to sender” messages. I see this as a metaphor for the risks of looking back more than you look ahead. Past experiences are formative I nature. But they are also locked in time and space.

If I get stuck in the behaviour of looking back and lamenting what might have been, I can get caught in the “undelivered, return to sender” loop. It becomes difficult, or even impossible, to move ahead because I am trapped in the past.

So I will learn what I can from the road I have travelled thus far. But then I will turn my face to the wind and forge onward. I may be the sum total of my life experiences to date. But there is much life yet to be lived.

I am still living the story of my life. In fact, the most interesting scenes may still lie ahead. When the final chapter is written, I hope it will say that I honoured what came before but always remained open to the next sunrise.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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