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  • On Firsts - Past and Future

    On Firsts - Past and Future

    Playing with some numbers and dates recently, I happened to discover that I was approaching a milestone event. As it turns out, counting Leap Days, today, February 7, 2015, marks my 20,000th day of Life.

    Now, I know what most of you are thinking, "But, John, you hardly look a day over 15,000!" Well, I fortunately don't feel it either, but the math is what is and the revelation of my biological odometer flipping over has left me thinking about the past - and the future.

    Feeling inclined to visually represent this span of time, I assembled an array of 20,000 points - 50 rows of 400 dots. I found resulting pattern kind of revelatory, if not a little scary. It's represented in the graphic above, although truthfully, to even begin to see each mark clearly (at least with 20,000 day old eyes) it's probably best viewed at letter size or greater.

    I'll forgive myself for not remembering much about the first couple of thousand days or so, but the remaining rows, and points, are the ones that got me thinking.

    I wonder which one represents my first day of kindergarten - the day I took my first, tentative steps toward independence amidst an imposing sea of playground strangers?  Which was the afternoon I got my first really cool bike, which began to broaden my horizons even more? How 'bout that thrilling ride down the concrete toboggan run with my father, which left his knuckles a little bloodied but his demeanor ready for the next trip.

    I remember family trips and school trips and my mother saying "Well, tomorrow's a new day" when things weren't going well. There were first dates, a first kiss, first car and first heartbreak. There was also the first time I saw the woman I'd marry, the beginning of a long run of many remarkable, treasured events. So many memorable moments, so many firsts.

    All of which leads me to consider - what points might represent the days my children each began their evolving journeys? Blank slates ahead, a wonder, a gift. I remember once hearing that life's days go slow, and the years, fast. Yes. While we hope to make each day memorable, the truth is most eventually fade into a hazy, vague memory of faded impressions.

    So, what about my own blank slate? Hopefully, many thousands of days still lie ahead. How will they be filled? What memories will future milestones conjure? Today's figurative turning point offers a unique chance to consider how I'll increase the value of each day to come. It seems a good starting point would be to up the ante on empathy and gratitude - important human attributes that sometimes get diminished in the day to day routine of our hectic lives.

    So, here's to firsts - past and future - and the chance to remember what was, and consider what can be.