If you have ever received those annoying chain emails, you have surely seen the one about friendship that reminds readers “people come into your life for a reason or a season.” It sounds cheesy, but it is true.

That email seems to arrive in my inbox right when I need the reminder to let someone go from my life, or to let someone in or move on. It gives me a temporary pause for reflection before I hit delete.

This poetic theory of human relationships makes me think of the Plinko game, where you drop a disc down the top of the game board and send it careening down a path and bouncing off the pegs, going left or right. Bing, bing, bing, until it hits the bottom and it’s game over.

People in our life are like those pegs and each of us is the disc. We bump into people, form relationships with some or quickly bounce off the energy of another. These pegs represent a neighbour, a best friend, a lover or even a total stranger. Some give our life momentum. Others send us in a direction we never anticipated.

The briefest exchanges can create the biggest impacts and the longest relationships can be the most defining. Every connection, big or small, reflects who we are, so we can learn from it. Sooner or later, these relationships end. It’s a human chain reaction.

For instance, had my first boyfriend not insisted we go to a garage party in 1986 (boy, could I pick a loser back then), I never would have laid eyes on my future husband, one of the older (cough) people there to chaperone the event. Had I not completely ignored my future husband, he might not be my Carpenter today. He might have gone on to lead a peaceful, normal, boring life with a sane girl. Lucky for him, I changed all that.

Or, if my college professor hadn’t pulled me into the hall after my accounting exam to ask me if I was on drugs because it was the only possible explanation for my terrible grade, then I never would have found the English professor down the hall who published my first fiction piece and sent me to university.

Three years ago, a simple conversation at the post office changed my life. I ran into my colleague, David Meyer, who encouraged me to send a sample column to this newspaper and take the risk that editor David Adsett, whom I had never met, might be interested. Thanks to Meyer’s advice, this column has had a home ever since.

He opened the door for my career here, welcoming me to the team when I joined as a full-time reporter in December. I’ve learned more about journalism in six months sitting next to him than I did in the previous ten years (including new swear words).

Gruff on the outside, but kind to the core, Meyer has chided me about my misuse of syntax, punctuation and first-person narration, and just as sincerely, has been generous with praise and encouragement. And while I won’t miss his jazz music, I will miss his stories.

In this business, experience is the best teacher and I have had the pleasure of working next to one of the best teachers around. Happy retirement, Meyer! (Note: he hates exclamation marks.)