Doing something the first time can be life-changing, or a simple moment of realisation that guacamole flavour ice cream is not your thing. New experiences can be exhilarating, devastating, and everything in between.
We don’t need to do grandiose things to experience the “new”. Observing small children shows quickly that even the simplest action performed for the first time can cause a stream of happiness accompanied by loud uncontrollable laughter.
As we grow we quickly lose the joy of life coming from experiencing the basic world. We need bigger things to trigger dopamine. We need travel, restaurants, new shiny things… Those things are great, I enjoy them. Though I would like to also enjoy the rest – “mundane” every day.
Our life is time-boxed. There is a start and there is an end. This has a consequence: there are things that will happen for the first time, but as well there are things that will happen for the last time. We can’t be certain about the future, but the past is already here. “For the last time” things have happened already many times. Retrospecting on life and contemplating those moments brings valuable insight into the joy of “every day”. Whatever you do now – someday it will be for the last time. Everything will be taken away. Last cup of coffee, last time you woke up without pain in your back, the last smile from your spouse, last time you have said goodbye to someone, last time you have been somewhere, your last breath…
Looking back the things that have happened for the last time should not be seen as an act of sorrow. Things have passed and there is nothing that we can do about it except to appreciate that we had a chance to experience them. It is important that there are people and things that are still here, and they are equally important – and we have time to recognize that.
This are my personal notes on the subject of “For the last time” after reading: The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient – William B. Irvine