They say that in one lifetime we live many lives.

Even when I was younger, this notion resonated with me, perhaps because we moved every two to three years. Maybe because I had more clarity when I was young and unspoiled.

The magic of photos and videos allow us to juxtapose our many lives in ways our ancestors could not. I have an abundance, but my children will have even more images (moving and still) thanks to the culture of smart phones.

What about your many lives?

When you look back on the years and lives you’ve lived, what words capture each stage?

What would the years look like on a graph, and what x and y axes would you use?

  • joy–sorrow?
  • eagerness–dread?
  • loved–lonely?
  • adventures–doldrums?
  • self-confidence–self-doubt?

Do some of the lives you’ve lived weigh more than others?

Which ones have you hidden from the world, maybe even tucked away from yourself?

If the 20-years-ago you were to run into the 5-years-ago you, would you recognize each other? Would the today you recognize the past yous?

My lives

In the spirit of fairness, I’ll answer some of the questions I’m posing to you. So…

  • heart wide open → obedient parent-pleaser → athlete & academic → wild & reckless → wife & mother → writer & lover
  • wild & telling graphs measuring joy, self-confidence, fun, overwhelm
  • absolutely, yes
  • I’ll never tell.
  • I hope so.

A life in images

Returning to the magic of juxtaposing images from the many lives…

photo collage of many lives

I don’t know about you, but one reason I think the many mes would recognize me still (and me the many mes) is that when I see that photo of me at the World Fair in New Orleans, holding my newborn in the hospital, running with bread I bought from the bread truck in Spain… something inside me reopens.

I’m sure I can’t conjure them completely, but I remember thoughts, emotions, messy entanglements of hope and fear, the chaos of dread and eagerness. Maybe because I do believe we live many lives in a lifetime AND we carry them forward with a single heart.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022