If it has not as yet become obvious, I have a huge love for children's books. Some are full of mystery and fantasy. Others stretch the imagination. Many are educational, carry a message, or teach us about other cultures. There are those that are inspirational in their themes and content. Finally, there are a few, just a few wonderful books that contain combinations of several of those elements.
One such story is that of Eva, an Inuit girl who lives in Northern Canada. Written by Jan Andrews, the book "Very Last First Time", tells the tale of how the Inuit gather mussels at the bottom of the sea in the wintertime. This activity is not only dangerous but an essential food source and integral part of their survival.
Eva has always accompanied her mother to perform this rather daunting task. The book tells about her experience and how it feels and looks when she does this by herself for the very first time.
Some of us have vivid memories of things that we achieved for the first time. Some events aren't recalled at all. Some of these times may have involved accomplishments or experiences. Some may have been pleasant, frightening, or an adrenalin rush. Nonetheless, the events that we remember best, were probably firsts in our lives.
I remember my first time riding a bicycle. Why wouldn't I remember? It was a huge deal until I crashed unceremoniously into a curb. I was attempting to negotiate a right turn onto a ramp at a south Ajax strip mall. Nobody ever told me that I had to turn the wheel into the curb. I picked myself up and looked sheepishly around to see if I was noticed. I didn't care that I was scraped and bleeding. All I was hoping was that nobody witnessed this twenty three year old woman riding a a bike for her very last first time.
What other firsts do people remember...a first date perhaps, the first day on a new job, the first time giving birth, the first time driving? How about first time in a kayak going over rapids, the first time hot air ballooning, scuba diving, or mountain climbing? It doesn't always have to be a huge event, nor does it have to mean that there'll be a second time. The thing is, the first time will never happen again will it?
Today, as I was walking through our mall, I saw a pillow in a store window. I wasn't certain whether it was for sale or not, but that's never stopped me. I negotiated a deal with the sales person and off I went. What a wonderful reminder of a great book, and the many firsts in our lives. Sometimes, we take their relevance for granted. Other times, we settle into a routine of safe, sameness and forget that there's much more in the world that, no matter what our age, we can discover and experience for the very last first time.