I was almost 17, working as a water ski instructor at a boys and girls’ camp on Walloon Lake in Michigan. One memorable ‘first time’ event that summer forever shaped my view of how I wanted to live my life.
One summer night I was having a burger at the close-by Big Boy restaurant in Petoskey. I was with John, a friend visiting from Cincinnati. He was staying with me at the cottage my parents had recently purchased on the lake.
John, an undeniable charmer and magnet for female attention, quickly drew the interest of two older girls from a nearby table. Our conversation, filled with youthful exuberance, led to an audacious proposal to visit “our cottage” by the lake. My parents, who owned a successful real estate firm in Cincinnati, had left that morning, entrusting their cottage to me (and John) for the first time.
“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
Fueled by teenage overconfidence, we concocted a story of being rock musicians who had our own home on the lake. The girls, skeptical yet intrigued, agreed to drive their car and follow us to the cottage. There, while trying to uphold our rock star facade, I began bragging about my semi-pro water-skiing skills. That led to me accepting a dare that would mark one of my most unforgettable first times; water skiing at night while John steered the boat with the girls cheering me on from the back seat.
Dangerous? Absolutely. Foolish? Without a doubt. Yet, that memory of skimming across the moonlit waters, with the girls’ jubilant screams echoing in the night, remains an unforgettable first. It was a ‘first time’ that, in retrospect, created a memory even more exhilarating than what John and I had anticipated on our drive back to the cottage, a ‘first time’ that did not happen that night.
“Success is loving life and daring to live it.” – Maya Angelou
From my first time piloting a plane, to launching my first business, to the moment I first kissed Teresa, my life has been rich in inaugural moments. Some of my ‘firsts’ were also ‘lasts’, like that unforgettable night skiing adventure. Others, such as my first kiss with Teresa, blossomed into beautiful new chapters of my life. Yet, they all share one commonality; making my life more intriguing and my memories more enduring.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
Bruce, a dear friend, once imparted a profound insight to me: “You never know when you are doing something for the last time.” His words were to encourage me to savor each experience, as it may be my last.
I’ve learned that there is another side to Bruce’s coin: You never know what you missed if you don’t have a lot of first times.
As we step into 2024, I wish you a year brimming with memorable experiences like skiing under the moon; awakening each day looking for opportunities to joyously exclaim, “my first time!”