Last Will and Testament
Last Tango in Paris
The Last of the Mohicans
Custer’s Last Stand
The word last is a weighty word. It puts a great deal of emphasis on the activity it describes, possibly distorting it. It can also trigger many emotions. There may be a feeling of desperation, panic, or even a sensation of hopelessness when it is used.
I just started my last year of teaching and I have to admit that it feels different than the other twenty four years. My awareness is definitely heightened, but I do not want to go through the entire final academic experience peering over the cliff and anticipating the drop-off.
I have heard people say, “Live every day as if it is your last”. Well, I am certainly in favor of making the most of each day, but that statement is a pretty tall order. First of all, nobody knows exactly when that final twenty four hours will occur, so it is unrealistic to try and pretend. And secondly, to maintain that level of enthusiasm, appreciation, and joy is practically impossible. Let’s face it, we all have good days and bad days, and then there are the ones in the middle.
During this time of year, the unofficial end of the summer, I am filled with a nostalgic feeling. Labor Day is the threshold over which I slowly tiptoe into autumn. Along with another school year, I start to notice that the days are getting shorter and the warmth of the sun on my face is not as strong. The dew moistens the grass until mid-morning and dry leaves now stick to the blades of grass. My carefree, summer days are gone and I put my watch back on my wrist to keep track of the precious hours. The clothing stores have switched over to sweaters and corduroys and orange and yellow hues illuminate their display windows. There is a premature hint of Christmas in some establishments and in reaction to it, my lazy summer-mode accelerates into a faster pace at the thought of the upcoming holidays.
“This was your last school picture”, one of my principals reminded me as I walked out of the auditorium last week. While exiting I was not really focused on that thought, but as I walked back to my classroom I regretted not wearing a more colorful outfit for my last portrait.
There will be many lasts in the upcoming months. Those who are envious of my position on the timeline, are not going to want to hear me proclaim each one. And those who have gone before me, will not be impressed. So I have decided to casually take note of the most important lasts and to blast out some new “firsts”.
Happy Labor Day as we all bid good-bye to the last days of summer! May this holiday be a mixture of memorable lasts and an opportunity for some future, exciting “firsts”.