This is an interesting set of reflections from retired teacher Wayne Morgan of El Dorado Hills, California. This author of “You’re Old: A Boomer’s Guide to Aging and Other Unexpected Developments” is treating everything in his life as if it’s the last time. We think it’s a little early to be thinking like that, but maybe it is something to think about. Wayne calls this, The Lasts.
I am riding my bike around Yosemite Valley in June of last year. The morning air is cool on my face and the sun is warm on my shoulders.
I stop to admire the falls. The drought-reduced flow is even more beautiful than normal as the wispy veil of water shifts gracefully in the breeze. Surrounded by three-thousand-foot granite cliffs, I pass through open meadows and dense pine forests, occasionally paralleling the tranquil Merced River. For me, if you’ll excuse the pun, this is a peak experience. Nothing is more invigorating—or more spiritually satisfying.
Yosemite takes me to a nostalgic state of mind. When our children were young we camped in the Valley almost every summer. It became a family tradition. Now, when we all get together for special occasions, it is common for us to fall into a “remember when” conversation. Remember when lightning struck the tree right next to our tents? Remember when we got flooded out and all six of us spent the night in the one room left at the lodge? Remember when the bear poked its nose into the tent and we screamed like we were in a horror movie?
The strongest memories seem to be of the times that things did not go as planned.
As I shift gears on my aging hybrid bike, I wonder if I should replace it. Approaching age seventy, it occurs to me that if I were to buy a new bike, it would probably be my last. But easier to replace an aging bike than an aging body.
I smile at the thought. It reminds me of my last year of teaching. During that year, I was sentimentally conscious as I taught each lesson. The last time I would demonstrate the rainbow that exists as white light. The last time I would explain DNA replication. The last time I would teach the mnemonic for the stages of mitosis. The last time I would tell some corny joke — and hear the students groan.
Aging can be another series of lasts. Last time to hike to Nevada Falls. Last time to sleep on the ground in a tent. Last time to float the river in a raft. Last time to ride a bike. Last time to…
Perhaps the lesson of lasts is to savor. Savor each activity with deep appreciation. You never know if this time will be the last.
What “lasts” have you already had? Which do you want to delay?