For the last time...

by George Lovell | | 0 comments

There's a first time for everything. And as mortal creatures, there's a last time for everything.

We always know it's the first. We don't always know it's the last.

A last bike ride
A last time we put up a Christmas tree
A last time we exchange a hello with the barista
A last time we buy new trainers
A last time we do a pull-up
A last vacation abroad
A last time we listen to our favourite song
A last time our dog wakes us up
A last Sunday Roast with family
A last time we speak to our best friend
A last time we take our child to the park
A last breath in...

There is a growing list of things that we have presumably already done for the last time:

Buy a DVD or video cassette from a shop
Organise a CD or vinyl collection
Get a pick and mix at the cinema
Score a goal or a try in a match
Play a giant game of tag
Read a spy novel
Finish a geography exam
Ate our favourite meal at our favourite restaurant
Stood in the rain at 4am waiting for an Uber
Gotten drunk in a park and woke up in McDonald's
Made a cup of tea for a grandparent
Get carried to bed by Mum

As you go about your day, you will inevitably but unknowingly keep adding to this list - doing things for the last time. You will see someone today that you will never see again. You will experience something unique today that will never happen again. There's a small chance that this will be the last post that you ever read - though I sincerely hope not!

Sometimes, you know you're doing something for the last time - like having a pint at your local pub on its closing night. These rare moments provide a richer experience than they usually would. You're not concerned with any little imperfections or inconveniences - you may even consider them part of the charm. You could have enjoyed every pint as much as this one, but there was no reason to be so intentional because you'd be back next week anyway.

Many of our customers are elderly, and some have been dropping in for the best part of a decade. Sometimes we find out that they have passed on or moved away, but more often a customer will pop into my head and I'll think "Gosh, I haven't seen them for a while", and I can typically assume that I probably won't see them again.

Sometimes I dig out an old iPhone 3GS or 4. Replacing screens and batteries on these built our business whilst keeping a roof over our heads and putting food on the table. Countless times sliding the back glass off or finishing a screen replacement only to realise that I'd left the home button out. Every time we take in an old model, it brings back a bit of nostalgia. Every time we repair one, there's a good chance it will be the last time. 

Inserting and turning the key to open the shop door for the last time is a vivid yet difficult thought to reflect on. Something we've done every single day for so long that the thought of not doing it is strange and unsettling. The distinct and satisfying click of the lock, the pressure on the handle and friction on the hinge, and the subtle but distinct combination of light, sounds and aromas that inhabit the atmosphere. Such a trivial thing - but one that given attention brings some joy that would otherwise be taken for granted.

We'll set someone up with their first smartphone for the last time. We'll fill the last column in each spreadsheet, cut or burn our fingers doing a repair, drink our morning coffee, write a blog post, and achieve a long-term goal for the last time. One day, we'll flick the lights and close the door for the last time.

We're not going anywhere anytime soon, but we will miss it when it's gone.

Tiny moments of satisfaction, pleasure and connection: these accumulate towards a good life - as do events, achievements and peak experiences. It's the small moments though, in my observation, that are underrated and underappreciated. 

Even our perception of frustrating or upsetting moments and occurrences can be viewed through the last-time lens - making them seem less significant, or even worthy of gratitude.

Being "in the present" is an abstract notion that we hear all the time. It's not always clear what this means, how or when we can get there, or even if we should want to get there.

This is a very simple, quick and worthwhile lever you can pull on to bring yourself into the present.

Every now and then, take a moment to reflect and appreciate what you're doing as if it is the last time. Do this not to create a sense of despair or urgency, but rather to infuse everyday occurrences with meaning. This probably won't be your last sip of tea, but why not appreciate it as if it is?

Because every single thing you experience is finite, and therefore, valuable. It's there for the taking. Once it's gone; it's gone.
Thanks for reading!

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