On the 11th of November I will celebrate 64 years on this earth. As I contemplated this fact and looked back at my life I was drawn to my “first” experiences: my first cigarette age 10; my first romantic kiss at the age of 13 – the memory strangely poignant and fresh; leaving home at age sixteen and flying to Singapore to work on a ship for a year; seeing Rhea for the first time; my first meditation; my first solo airplane flight; y first solo sea watch as a Navigating officer…. So many firsts… never to be repeated. My mind then wondered about the opposite: how many “lasts” have I experienced without knowing it? The lasts tend to sneak by unnoticed until well…it’s too late.
The saying goes that you never know just how important someone or something is to you until they are gone. Unfortunately, it is a very human tendency.
There have been so many lasts: my shipmates who drowned when their ship sank; this last two years the last two horses on our farm died. We had so many adventures together, even riding as far as Potes. When they were sick or injured we spent hours attending to their wounds. Even writing about it now I can feel sadness welling up in my chest and throat. There were many “last times” with them: the last time to feel their sweet warm breath on my face, the last time stroking their velvety nose, the last time stroking their warm, sleek muscular necks.
The man who always ate his menu in the same place as did we, there always, until suddenly he wasn’t (he had died of a heart attack). Our interactions were friendly although we were never friends I saw him for the last time without ever realising it. All that was left was a feeling of something missing, like my tongue unconsciously finding the gap after having a tooth removed.
When will be the last time you taste an orange, or the last time you will sit on a swing, the last time you will go for a swim, or cuddle a loved one? How many of these “last time” moments have come and gone and we don’t yet know it?
Reading this you might think that these just the maudlin thoughts of an old fart.
I have discovered that being aware of “maybe this is the last time” brings a kind of sacredness to the moment; an appreciation of the miracle and gift of life, the immense privilege of being here, a part of the universe with the property of consciousness and the ability to appreciate. As I write those words I once again feel emotion welling up, a bitter-sweetness.
There are really only two things certain in this life: you will die and you don’t know when.
So live in that reality: don’t leave home on a bad word; never lose the opportunity to be kind; don’t put being right over being happy, don’t wait to tell someone you love them; don’t wait to apologise or forgive. Live with the idea that it may be your last time (it may well be!).
Watch your appreciation and connectedness grow.