The Last Time?

Zan. November, 2022

3 minutes

Sunset at Kawau

Last week I travelled with a group of friends to a place dear to my heart, Kawau Island off the coast of Auckland in New Zealand. We stayed in a house in the forest that has been owned by my grandmother since before I was born. Growing up in New Zealand my family and I went there all the time. I had many childhood adventures: exploring the bush playing make believe in the trees, watching stingrays sun themselves in the shallows, stumbling across nesting penguins hiding in an old pump box.

After migrating to Australia in 2005 our trips there have been infrequent and the house has fallen into disrepair. It's a constant battle with the forest. The plant life is precocious and yields for no man or structure, eagerly seeking to reclaim any dwelling. The house needs constant attention and love that our family isn't in the position to provide. It's an emotional decision, but I think it's the best course of action that my grandmother should sell the house and land to people who can use them to their full potential.

It was a bittersweet time at Kawau. I've dreamed about being able to take friends there for so long. It was wonderful being able to share the space with them. I kept coming back to thinking about how this time I spend is likely the last that I'll spend there in my life. It's an interesting exercise. I think our brains default to thinking that we'll be around forever. From our ego's perspective we experience continuity throughout our life narratives—barring ego-transcending experience available in meditation and psychedelic states. This leads us to the intuitive but incorrect conclusion that the process of us will continue on forever. There's nothing real underpinning that feeling of perpetual persistence. We can never know if we're experiencing something for the last time. Donning the lens of the last time grounds me and fosters a kind of presence. Receptivity to the current moment. We see the world through new eyes.[-1]

I've been in contact with this feeling in recent times. My fiancée and I are moving across the world soon. I'm feeling the weight of saying goodbye to so many: kind, intelligent, out there individuals. I always hope that my parents and grandparents will live long into their golden years, but there's an echo in the back of my mind when I see them. Could this be the last time?

When I meditate on 'is this the last time' I feel a melancholic peace. I'll miss being here. But it doesn't scare me as much as I think it used too. There's a certain sting of not getting to do everything I might have wanted. Possibilities lost. But then we feel that sting all the time. Through every decision I suffer that same pruning of possibility. And yet I need to make decisions in order to navigate my life and experience growth. The loss of possible future is a requirement for living a good life. So why should it frighten me in death?

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