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.


11 thoughts on “Last occurrances

  1. Yes, I do remember a lot of last times – I think I have a penchant for celebrating them, I am a probably a last-time-rituals-addict. But most of the events I remember are related to my career or education – in particular I am remembering “last days at work” or the last consulting engagement with a customer (… the last time boarding the airplane to travel to customer X and celebrating every single detail such as the last time I need to get up at 04:00 AM to head for the airport to travel to Y). Probably I am cheating as it is very easy to recognize those types of “last times” – the ones I have created myself in a sense. On the other hand I feel “the very power of last times” is related to making decisions and thus declaring them last times – in contrast to those last times we cannot control. Or probably these are all psychological tricks and I just prefer the illusion of having control over my life by remembering the self-declared last times most vividly 😉

    • Thanks again Elke. We all have our own archive of last times which filled with the various types you outlined here. The last times that started me thinking about them, and the sort which was discussed in the radio broadcast I mentioned, were the sad sort which one doesn’t think about until much, much later. But, as you point out, some lasts provide good reason for celebration! Thanks again for checking in and for taking the time to think and write. D

  2. Hate to copy Celia, but this is one GORGES picture. Seems like an enchanted spot. Bet the water was cool and refreshing during your dip! I know what you mean about “last times”. Can be a melancholy subject … except in the case of moving Ben in/out of his various college dorms and apartments! 🙂

    • The water was 61 degrees and quite numbing. Like I remember the water at the Isles of Shoals. Joanna tells me that Monday is the day. Good luck to all … we’ll be watching for pictures. D

  3. I love the idea of ‘lasts’ that are only recognized in hindsight … probably, the majority in life are. I guess that’s why they say to live each day as thought it could be your last. I always thought that was an exhausting prospect, but it really is a luxury to be able to plan years into the future. I hope my last walk at Treman (2009) wasn’t really my last either … it looks as gorges as ever!

    • Yeah, ‘lasts’ can be kind of sad to contemplate. And, I think the lasts we are aware of at the time can be rough. Except of course the last visit to the orthodontist! I’m glad you liked the idea behind the post though. Although I’m a regular runner, Treman put many of the muscles I don’t usually use to the test. I called Mom’s little hike the ‘Megatransect.’ I was sore … and still am. D

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