Firsts

January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Outside magazine sent me a free teaser copy of this month’s magazine. (For what it’s worth, that trick didn’t work.) One article included a line that said all great firsts have been done, that there’s nothing big left to achieve. The author didn’t elaborate and the line was probably just word-count-filler to him, but it’s been gnawing at me.

All great firsts have been done? Maybe he’s right on a really grand scale, though I don’t completely buy that. There’s always something left to do, if you dream big enough. That’s another post. For now, it’s not the grand scale that interests me, it’s the individual human scale. Not everything has to be grand.

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about firsts. This is where it started:

photo by Andrea

photo by Andrea

(There’s also a less-blurry video, and it’s worth a trip over to Flickr to see it until I figure out how to embed it here: First-time flyer.)

My friend Andrea introduced me to the flying trapeze, and it was amazing. Terrifying and exhilarating in a way I wasn’t expecting at all. It took me a while to figure out why this particular activity made such an impact on me. It wasn’t the sense of danger; I spend a good amount of my time riding my bike at high speeds in glorified underwear squished together with dozens of other people, most of them bigger than me. Danger doesn’t really phase me anymore. I wasn’t fulfilling a lifelong dream of being an acrobat or anything like that. It finally dawned on me that this feeling wasn’t entirely unfamiliar. I’d had it before, mostly as a kid. It was the way I felt the first time I’d done or accomplished something new. (If I had to box up the feeling into a single word, I think I’d call it triumph.)

When we’re little, everything is exciting and meaningful because it’s new. It’s an adventure. Taking one tiny, fumbling step is massive. And the next, and the next. Then our worlds expand, and after a while nothing seems that exciting because it’s all been done before, by us or by somebody else. Nothing is new. As a grown-up, you don’t get many opportunities to try new things. Those opportunities you do get, you have to seek out for yourself.  So.

I want more firsts. I started with trapeze; you?

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