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Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Time of 'Lasts'

As my retirement and move from California draw ever closer, I have been thinking of all the 'lasts' in my life. Most people, it seems, focus on 'firsts' -- a baby's first steps or first words, a child's first job or first crush, our first car. But for me, this is a time of 'lasts.'

Yesterday I walked to our administration building for my last annual performance review. Today at noon I took my last walk around the field at work, walking by the runway and baylands for the last time. I also paid more attention to my environment, looking and seeing with much greater awareness. I removed my headphones and made a point of listening to the world around me. I heard geese honking, the buzz of insects, the wind in the weeds. I saw several white egrets and butterflies. I noticed the weeds with their colorful flowers, in purple, yellow and white. I looked closely at the still-green hills just the other side of the bay.

Today was the last day I had to get up early and go to work. I took care of a last work request by my supervisor. When I go somewhere, I wonder to myself if this is the last time I will visit that shop or restaurant or park. I recently made last visits to the veterinarian, doctor and dentist, and ordered a last refill of a couple of prescriptions.

Friday we will have our last family therapy call. On Sunday, I will make my last drive from California to Utah to pick up my daughter, and this will be the last time the dogsitter will stay at my California home with my dogs.

I am not saddened to think about all these 'lasts.' On the contrary, once the 'lasts' are out of the way, I will start encountering 'firsts.' My first drive from California to New Mexico. The first time my daughter will be home for more than a few days in nearly a year. Our first residence in New Mexico. My first retirement. (Some people retire from one line of work, then start working at something else). I am continuing to work on my first book. I hope someday to sell my first photograph.

Firsts and lasts are both important, I think, although firsts get a lot more attention. There seems to be something negative about last: No one wants to finish last in a race or in an election. No one wants to be last to succeed at something or to be the last to reach any of the milestones of life. But not all lasts are bad. I savored my last walk at work today. Without my usual walking partner (who walks so fast I practically have to jog to keep up with him), I slowed my pace and enjoyed my last trip past the marshland and along the mile-long runway. I was much more conscious of the vegetation and the birds and the mountains.

Without lasts, there can be no firsts. I am ready for both at this stage of my life.