Who am I? How did I come to be? These are the two super-big questions that seem to preoccupy the speaker throughout "One of the Lives," although he never asks them directly. As he delves back into his personal history and beyond, you see him begin a quest for answers. It's almost as if he feels a need to include all the details, important or not, to piece together the puzzle of his identity. (Hint: start with the edge pieces.) Nearly all of the people mentioned (no matter how insignificant they seem) have a part in shaping our speaker's identity. It's pretty weird to think his father's driving instructor had anything to do with forming the speaker's identity, but she did her small part, just like the red-haired boy did his. It's a small world after all. (Thanks, Disney!)
The speaker feels lost at this point of his life, like he doesn't know who he is (or else somebody's swiped his GPS). He reflects on all this history in order to get a sense of his present identity.
The kind of reflection that the speaker is doing means that he can never have a purely original identity. He will always owe who he is to the lives and events that have gone before him.