Opinion: Never-ending firsts

Commentary by Terry Anker

Firsts. Premiers. The maiden voyage. We all have them. Yet, as we age, it may seem as if they become fewer. But do they ever go away? Along life’s journey, we are routinely presented with opportunities to try our hand at new things, skills and experiences.

Among the many joys of seeing life through the eyes of young children is the sense of anticipation and apprehension that embodies firsts. We recall that an inaugural school dance is filled with trepidation even as we are compelled to attend – driven by our desire to socialize (whatever that means to a seventh-grader) and join our friends. One is reminded of the wonder of catching a snowflake and watching it dissolve into the warm folds of our hands. By the time we have witnessed a thousand snowfalls, the magic becomes the mundane.

At a certain stage in life, what is left for us that is new? We have traveled, raised children, paid a mortgage, built a career, driven a car, eaten exotic food and, most likely, been to a school dance. Too often, we slip into our routines imagining that little remains undiscovered. Yet, are we being entirely honest with ourselves?

Do we intentionally avoid the novel and unknown firsts, just like a trepidacious child loath to leave the safe confines of mother’s skirt? Are we deliberately holding ourselves back, excusing our reluctance by claiming that there is nothing new under the sun?

Only recently, our youngest procured his initial license to drive an automobile. He was a bit reticent. In time, the course work and training were completed. The tests and administrations were fulfilled. All that remained was the first drive – alone. Even as the car pulled from our lane, his anxiety transformed into elation. He had overcome another first and was already on to the next.

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