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The Life Fully Lived: Colouring Outside the Lines

August 11th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, when was the last time you dared to disregard the fence and go seeking the unexpected?

In our childhood years, we are not by nature constrained by the rules. Life is a giant playground. It calls to us to explore every nook and cranny regardless of whether the rules say we can.

As we mature and grow into adulthood, we learn that there are rules to the game of life and often penalties for noncompliance. We develop an inner voice of reason that warns us when we are treading close to the line and steers us back onto the acceptable path.

But part of maturing is recognizing that a life fully lived occasionally means breaking the rules. Some of life’s special moments happen when we step outside the lines.

I was hiking at one of my favourite conservation areas yesterday scouting for late summer butterflies and dragonflies. I was rewarded early. A few stunning specimens presented themselves to me in the first half hour in plain view on the path.

This immaculate Black Swallowtail came to greet me and was unusually accommodating in posing for a photograph. It almost seems suspended in mid-air as it perches on a leafy weed and rests ever so briefly.

This Red-spotted Purple was equally obliging only a few minutes after the Swallowtail moved on. It came to rest on a white wildflower and invited me to admire it. FYI: No one seems to know why it is called a Purple when it is clearly blue!

There are several small ponds in the conservation area. One of them has been drained the last two years to allow vegetation to regenerate. A sturdy, wood rail fence has been constructed along the edge of the pond where a trail runs adjacent to it. The fence obviously says Stay Out in no uncertain terms.

But I know from experience that there are good sightings to be had off trail that I would miss if I strictly follow the rules. So I squeezed around the end of the fence, navigated some rocky ground and pushed through the weeds on the hunt for off-trail gems. And I was rewarded.

This Milbert’s Tortoiseshell was cavorting in the weeds and wildflowers in that forbidden area. I would never have spotted it from the path – let alone get close enough for a photograph.

Hairstreaks are one of the most sought after butterflies as they are uncommon and hard to find. As I was admiring the Tortoiseshell, I turned around and spotted this nickel-sized Banded Hairstreak feeding on a wildflower. It was the highlight of my day.

Life has rules for valid reasons. Most often the best course of action is to follow them. But now and then, life calls us to break the rules, leave the beaten path and go where we are not supposed to go.

It is often when, exercising our best judgment, we colour outside the lines that we experience those memorable moments that make life truly worth living.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at

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