A Moment in Life’s Timeline

The other morning as I drove along the sparse country road on my way to work, I noticed a flag up ahead. It was standing in grandeur among trees beginning to show their artistry. A reminder that change is ever-present. I could tell that there was a sign sitting next to the flag, so I slowed down to read it. On a black chalkboard with delicate handwriting in red chalk, it read “9–11, Never Forget.”

I felt my throat choke up, and tears escaped my eyes. I was already feeling melancholy as I set about the day, and this just drilled it home. Then, I realized that “Wake Up Call” by Scott Stapp was playing and the lyrics drew me in.

“One day the bridge is gonna break

One day the world will standstill

The sky will fall, the earth will shake

There’s just so much a heart can take

This is a wake-up call

How many times before you lose it all?

You’re like cannon ball-breaking walls

This is a wake-up call

Before there’s no one left to catch your fall

But you can change it all

If you want to”

All I could think was “Wow,” and I felt my eyes fill up again. The words could mean a million things to a million people, but for me, at that moment, it was a flood of emotions. The parallel to what happened that tragic day 18 years ago took my breath away, as did the timing of this song on my playlist.

But it was more than that.

What struck me the most is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in this world, you’ve likely been impacted by something that has caused your world to stand still. The bridge may have broken while you were standing on it and you may have felt like you were going to drown. The magnitude of the earthquake that shook your world may be immeasurable. Perhaps you had it all and then suddenly the sky fell. Now you stand alone, scared, and not sure of your purpose or your future.

Maybe, life didn’t turn out how you planned, and now you wonder how you’ll ever come back from an addiction, a divorce, or the loss of a child or a parent.

Unfortunately, there is no immunity idol to keep us safe and protect us from the ugliness and atrocities of life; which when I think about it seems strange. Why would we want protection from life? Aren’t we supposed to live with purpose and to it’s fullest potential? Of course, I also understand that there are times when bad decisions made on our part may play a leading role in our demise. I also recognize that, on a broad scale, there’s a plethora of wrongdoing and tragedies in our world. But that’s a different story altogether.

What I keep coming back to is that if we are breathing and fortunate enough to be walking around this earth, then we are susceptible – to any of it. Good, bad, or indifferent. It’s one of the things in my mind that connects us as human beings.

I couldn’t turn off my thought processor as I drove; and even later that evening while I went for a run, my thoughts still kept coming back to that song and those lyrics. It made so much sense, and I couldn’t escape the desire to write about it.

Maybe because to some degree I’ve been there, and I know loved ones who also have. Again, it’s what connects us: our susceptibility.

So, I ask you to consider this.

Haven’t we all bled at some point? 

Don’t we all carry scars – inside or out – that hold some significance in our life?

Have you ever asked yourself or someone else “How did this happen?” and then break down. 

Or maybe, as you lie awake in the middle of the night, you whisper “What do I do now?” hoping that someone hears your cry for your help.

Then, again, maybe you sit in silence because you are too afraid.

Or perhaps you are the one who stands up and says, “We can make a difference.” So you do.

There will be scales of ugliness, and tragedy will seep in. I’m not sure it will ever cease – at least not while we are breathing. But while we are here, while we are living, then we should try to make a difference.

Like the song says “But you can change it all. If you want to.”

So let’s start with ourselves and see what happens from there. I’ve learned that if we aren’t happy with who we are if we don’t love ourselves, then how the hell can we extend that anywhere else? We are all a moment in life’s timeline leading us to the next stop should we be fortunate enough to get there. For some, they never get to step off tomorrow’s platform. Like all the lives lost 18 years ago – and all the lives lost in between.

For others, we may stumble aimlessly off the platform and not give it another thought – hoping for tomorrow instead of living for today. Some, will grab hold, breathe deep, welcome the day, and live it.

But, as you probably realize, it changes in a split second — at any given time, at any given point of our lives – and we catapult into an emotional hurricane. Some of us may not make it out and some of us will. So, with debris at our feet, we wonder how we’ll ever rebuild. But somehow we do. Somehow, somewhere, odds are being defied. We make a choice. We change. Hope shines through, and faith restores.

Afterall, wake up calls happen every day.


Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis
Laura credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom, who always believed in her. Writing unabashedly from the heart and inspired by millions of moments, three tenets of evergreen advice that her mom always shared with her are her guiding principles. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. Laura’s creativity also comes to life in her passion for photography. Her ongoing love affair with the moon, her joy for family and friends, her connection to nature, and being a loving canine mom often become some of her best subjects. Laura has held many roles throughout her professional career, including Brand Manager, Project Manager, and Director of Global Business Development and Sales Operations. In addition, she has a background in consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, and textiles. Laura currently works in biotechnology for Berkshire Corporation as their Product Marketing Manager. She holds a Master of Science degree in Communications and Information Management from Bay Path University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY Oswego. Originally from Northern NY, Laura resides with her husband and canine child in a small town in Massachusetts that captured her heart years ago.

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  1. I’m always struck by the resilience of people when I learn about the pivotal moments in their lives. It’s those vulnerabilities that both shape us & connect us. The Chinese character for danger is also the character for opportunity. So which will it be? We each must decide.

    My pivotal moment came when I spent 5 weeks in the ICU with a brain stem abscess. As I lay there paralyzed I thought my life was over. It was as I’d known it then. But there were gifts. In relearning to walk I stopped taking my body for granted. I appreciated my reclaimed mobility. In knowing the fear & vulnerability of illness, I developed deeper empathy for my clients. And it goes on…

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, Julie. I wasn’t aware of the Chinese character for danger, also being the character for opportunity. However, you are right. We each must decide – and it’s a great gift to be able to have a choice.

      Life will always find a way to throw us curve balls and test our strength but being able to find the lesson – even in during our most challenging circumstance – is worth the intrinsic reward.

      I appreciate you taking the time to be here – thank you.

  2. Some negative events or experiences, when they are not even tragic, have the power to break our sense of security. External circumstances are not always negative in themselves, but it is the subjective perception of these experiences that makes them negative: this happens in particular when one has felt powerless in the face of something that was impossible to control, improve, repair.

    • All excellent insights, Aldo. Thank you for extending the conversation beyond initial thoughts and adding this perspective. Negative experiences can indeed break our sense of security, and in some cases, it can take a long time to feel that safe feeling again. But with time, it is possible.

  3. “…if we aren’t happy with who we are if we don’t love ourselves, then how the hell can we extend that anywhere else?” So true. The gift I try to give myself these days are moments of reflection. We can be moving so fast all the time that we forget what’s really important and that all of this can change in a flash. Beautiful piece, Laura.

    • I hear you loud and clear, Jeff. For me lately, it seems we are moving at mock speed; which can be good and bad. The good is that I’m able to do it, the downside is that you neglect the important things. Even if you don’t mean to do it; that is why taking that moment to slow your pace, take a deep breath, and appreciate the beauty in your life makes a huge difference.
      Yesterday we knew we had a lot to accomplish, but we took the morning to go out to breakfast and take a long way home. It was a beautiful day, and it called for country back roads, cider donuts, and stopping to appreciate life. So, the lawn mowing and chores waited, and it is was worth it.

  4. You’re right, Laura, if we see and hear them, wake up calls can happen every day. I think the critical part is to hear them, to see them, to choose to look up and rebuild, and to tell the story from the perspective of resilience, rather than victimhood. Great piece, my friend.

    • I agree with you, Sarah. Hearing the wake-up calls is the critical part, and some have selective hearing. I know I have from time to time. Part of the reason I’ve made it this far is due to my resilience. While it hasn’t always been easy, it is worth the effort.

      Thank you for your support and encouragement, Sarah. I appreciate you taking the time to read this article and for sharing your thoughts.

  5. We are all subject to the vagaries of life, which is why we have chosen to be here at this time and place. Everything in life is an event that results in an experiene of who we are, why we are here and how we can benefit one another in that specific moment. Each subsequent moment offers the opportunity for a new expression as who and what we are and we venture along this path of life toward the ultimate Truth. Love the article Laura. Blessings.

    • Thank you, Jim. Thank you also for your insightful comments. I loved reading them. Life is definitely an experience and brings with it so much of what you describe. I used to take for granted the little things, but after some wake-up calls of my own, now I realize the importance of the moments. I’m grateful for another day and another chance to be in the moments.

  6. What a beautiful and thoughtful article Laura! Yes, life can change just like that as we know from that terrifying day eighteen years ago. Truly, as long as we are on this earth, we must strive to be the best we can be. You are so right. It starts with us! Thank you!?

    • Thank you, Darlene! I appreciate you taking the time to read it and for sharing your thoughts with me. It isn’t always easy when it starts with us, but challenges are part of the journey. Sometimes we have to do the hard work, but the intrinsic reward is priceless.

    • Maureen, thank you for taking the time to read this article and for sharing your thoughtful sentiments about it with me. I am thankful each day I wake up because it is an opportunity; and while I may not always get it right, at least it is a chance to try.