Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Last Time

An excellent post by the young fellow who writes Open Container II at Time of My Life in which he ponders the issue of whether we appreciate the happiest times of our lives when they are happening, "bucket boats" as in Bucket List, and whether his current boat will be his last boat.

It reminded me that I've meaning to write a post for some time on the subject of "the last time." There has to be a last time for everything we do in this life. The last time to run a marathon. The last time to go skiing. The last time I saw my father alive.

I don't mean "last" in the sense of "the last time I did it but one day I might do it again" but rather "the last time in this life I will ever have that experience."

As you grow older the chances are that you experience more and more of these "last times" but usually you don't know at the time that it is the last time, and sometimes you don't even know now.

For sure I will never see my father alive again. But will I go skiing again or run another marathon? Probably not, but you never know.

If you know it is the last time when you do it, does it change the quality of the experience? I think so. This is the last time I am ever going to sail at this club (before I move away.) This is the last time we will all enjoy a Christmas together at our old family home (before we sell it.) There's a certain poignancy when you know.

Will I always be a Laser sailor? Or will there be a time for the last Laser sail? Of course there has to be a last Laser sailing day, even if it is the one when I finally cheat the nursing home.

How will it happen? Will I decide one season that it's time to hang up my hiking boots and then choose one favorite regatta as my last Laser sailing experience?

Or will I come out of hibernation one winter and realize that I am finally too decrepit to hack it any more and that I have already had my last Laser sail?

Which would be the best way to finish it?

Will there be a last post on this blog? Inevitably, yes. It can't go on for ever. Will I just lose interest, run out of ideas for things to write about, stop for a few days, and then the days extend to weeks, months, years... ?

Or will I make a positive decision to end the blog?

I wonder what would be a good title for the last post?


Joe said...

I can tell you that is should not be titled "The Last Time." I would be go into convulsions if you stopped blogging, and the world would cease to exist if you stopped sailing Lasers. Who would I curse at? It's just too horrible to contemplate.

Baydog said...

What he said, except the goddamn cursing part.

Eloise said...

I do not like to be mocked.

Thank you.

Baydog said...

Alright, here we go:

The last time I saw Dad,
I had set him up with a tour of
the Institute for Advanced Study
in Princeton, New Jersey. In his later years, he got really interested in physics, of all things, and was thrilled at the news that he would be walking the halls of the "Ivory Tower", in the supposed footsteps of Albert Einstein. Afterward, he came to the restaurant for lunch, where he'd always wanted to sit at Einstein's table. There he sat, first with his martini and oysters, then with a Heineken and braised veal cheeks, reading the NY Times, a more liberal newspaper than he would have preferred, but it was there...and in Princeton.
When he left, with tears in his eyes, he told me that that was one of the greatest days in his life! A man of 69 years, and this day meant so much to him. Pretty much 2 months to the day later, he died. I didn't see him after that day at the restaurant. Would I like a do-over? One last chance to see him? I'm not quite sure. The memory of him then is priceless and it never could have been more perfect. The last glimpse of my old man saw him perfectly content and eerily at peace with himself. That image will always be with me.

Frankie said...

Cheer up guys! Summer time and the fish is jumping!!! No last post, thank you. ...and 'last post' means something else in UK English. None of that either! Life is life, live and let die... don't forget to smell the roses and taste the wine... until the last minute.

Pat said...

Old Laser sailors never die, they just lose their collimation.

Smilicus said...

Maybe a good last title would be: "The nursing home won."

That could be the title and the body of the post

Antolin said...

we all want you to keep going forever Señor Timonel. Arriba los viejitos!! May I refer you to my "last" blog?

EscapeVelocity said...

It's looking like my mom's last sail was probably when I took her out on her 87th birthday--she fell and broke her hip last fall and I don't think she's got the mobility to get on and off the boat now. I hope I can go that long.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Thanks for the link, Old Man!

JP said...

It's an interesting question.

I often think the same thing about travel: when I leave a place is that the last time ever I'll see it and if so will I regret not seeing everything?

Having been to (say) Rio or San Fran a couple of times would I mind a lot if I never visit either of them again?

There are some cases where it can be a good thing. If the last time I ate at McDonalds is the last time ever then that for me would only be a good thing!

Baydog said...

Less serious- how about post mortem?

You're never going to quit, are you Tillerman?

O Docker said...

And I thought it was just me.

I think it sets in with geezerhood. For me, it started around 40.

Is this my last bike trip to Switzerland? My last boulangerie? The last flat I fix by the side of the road?

Those questions have gradually changed me. I tend to savor the simple stuff more. If something is working out well, like a daysail on the bay, I linger a little longer now than I used to. I'm in less of a hurry to get back home.

In time, life starts making more decisions for us than we make for ourselves. We often won't get to decide when will be the last time we do something.

But if you take every exciting thing that happens to you as if it were the last time, you may find things in the moment that you would have otherwise misssed.

Sail every sail, write every post, drink every beer as if it were your last.

Some day, it will be.

Pat said...

Forward, forward my family always looked during my childhood, never wanting to dwell on the past. And I've sometimes been guilty of neglecting the here and now in favor of some golden dream of the future.

Joe said...

This post was really deep and worthy of contemplation. Cherish every moment because "lasts" come without warning.

Baydog said...

That's it, I'm staying out later on Sunday. I don't give a crap. It's only work on Monday morning.

Pandabonium said...

Buddhism teaches to live in the present. There is only now. The past is gone, the future is not here. Our "monkey minds" jump from one thought to another and project our worries into the past and into the future - regrets and anxieties.

When you sail your Laser, sail. Be in the present moment. Don't worry about "last sail". Just sail. When it ends, it will end. Nothing is permanent. Without ending there is no beginning. Without death, there is no life. These are not opposites, but two sides of the same coin.

Blog, sail, be happy.

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