Turn Ordinary Moments into Memorable Ones with the ‘Last Time’ Exercise
A simple reminder to bring you back to the present
I had just dug into the amazing meal my mother-in-law had made when I heard something that made it hard to take another bite.
Every Tuesday, my father-in-law Lluis goes hiking with his buddies. It’s his time. The mountains are his place. He normally doesn’t return till late. While we were eating, however, we heard the front door open and Lluis let out a massive sigh before joining us in the kitchen.
“What’s wrong?” my mother-in-law asked in a concerned voice. “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”
“I’m fine, really,” he replied after sitting down to take off his boots. “I’ve made that climb 100 times before. But I think it has outgrown me. Today, I had to say goodbye to my favorite mountain.”
I wanted to say something. We all did. But what do you say to someone who just realized they can no longer do something they love?
Is there a phrase for that?
Are there words?
I looked at my wife. She looked back at me. A single tear ran down her cheek. I thought for sure we’d spend the rest of the evening in quiet contemplation. But after Lluis had a couple of bites to eat and a few sips of wine, he began to talk.
He told us about how when the fog lifted he could see all the way to the sea.
He told us about the jokes he and his buddies shared.
He told us about how the light changed colors at every turn.
In short, instead of seeing it as a sad event, the realization that this would be the last time he’d climb that mountain brought the experience into laser-sharp focus.
To this day, five years later, if you asked him to retrace his route, even at the age of 87, he could tell you a story about every single step.
What if this is the last time?
As someone who has a tendency to worry too much about what’s ahead of me, instead of giving my full attention to the things directly in front of me, I think about Lluis’s experience a lot.