Last occurrances

We were in New York over the weekend and hiked the Gorge Trail at Robert H. Treman State Park. Joanna and I have known this particular spot for a very long time and, in fact, walked it when we were dating. As we hiked we agreed that thirty years had passed since we last viewed Lucifer Falls, swam in the waters of Enfield Creek as it coursed along the trail (highly illegal … but, we were young then), and enjoyed sanctioned swimming beneath the Lower Falls. I cannot remember whether it was an NPR story or one I heard on the BBC, but several weeks ago I listened to a fascinating consideration of the profound topic of last times. Have you ever thought about the last time you did something? No, no, I’m not talking about instances when you rhetorically ask yourself When was the last time I had take-out for dinner? I mean, have you ever thought about the last time you heard your grandmother’s voice? The last time you spent the afternoon playing in a sandbox as a kid? Or, the last time you drove your first car? Note that the times of which I speak are not those which simply happen to be the most recent among a number of repeated events but are, instead, the final occurrence in one of these sequences. The fascinating thing about these very special lasts is that you often only know that they are, or were, the last in hindsight. Surely there is one sort of last that can be identified in real time, if you have the presence of mind to realize it. In this category would be the last time you took the SAT … or the last time you turned in a college term paper. But there are other lasts that you cannot identify until later, often much later. In this category we find things like the last time you diapered one of your kids or the last time you enjoyed a meal with one or another relative. As I compose this post I am glad that the hike along the Gorge Trail which we enjoyed those many years ago was not, in fact, a last. Furthermore, I hope that this recent walk was not one either. Time will tell.


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