Each bite on the fork, each little bit of air that graces the lungs on a long, gentle, fresh inhale, every leaf in the fall, the song of a bird, the touch of a soft hand… even the pain, the stuffy noses and the achie knees, the sharp words, and the feeling of sleeping after a long day, the moments when we face the whole day in one final release.
What if, not a single moment in your life had you done before? What if this were the first time you ever sat down to read something? Right now! But magically, your brain knew what to do with the words like a baby knows how to grab a finger placed gently into its palm. What would you do? How would you feel?
It’s a game yes, but it’s also a lesson, it’s something different and a wake of coffee sprinkled with flowers and smelling salts to bootstrap one back to the ‘now’ of life. it’s the moment, the quintessential Buddhist “just this”. Every breath is the first, every experience is new. There are no bellies to hang over your pants, no ‘To Do’ lists, no limitations that you cannot unfetter.
And why not? Why not ask yourself: “What if this were my first time eating an ice cream?” How about taking a look at a telephone? What a weird looking object? Do you remember the first time when you were little, playing with this unusual toy and hitting buttons just to hear the sounds and feel the texture of the buttons roll around on your finger? Did you ever notice the oils from you skin, the prints from your hand mark the plastic on the sides of this unusual jumble of wires?
Maybe not, but you get the idea. How about putting on an earring for the first time? Going to the bathroom, the kitchen, walking into your house! Try it, the next time you open the door to your home, just before, say to yourself: “This is the first time I’m walking into my house.” See how you feel, look carefully at the first thing that comes to your eye. Then, walk in, look around like a little child, or a cat in a new place. Take a sniff of the fake plastic flowers on the vase, pick up that pencil left curiously in the middle of the clean table, notice the thin veil of afternoon dust hanging on the air as the sun enters the room at just the right angle.
It’s there, it’s all there. The joy, the little smile at the corners of your mouth. That’s you, that’s the you that’s been forgotten. And it’s OK, you were never really gone, just a little bit asleep. All things that are important will get done. Wash the dishes for the first time. Take out the garbage for the first time, call the doctor’s office for the first time, then go read your favorite book for the first time while eating an Oreo for the first time in the first glass of milk that you ever dunked a cookie into.
And if you forget to ask yourself these questions, if you forget to notice; it’s OK. Just say, “Well, what if this were the first time I remembered that I can always come back to right now?” That would be a joy, wouldn’t it?