Two more posts from the Times' most faithful blogger.

    Directions are everywhere!

    Long past daily parents’ and teachers’ tutorials, I am still being instructed:
    • “One Way”
    • “No Right On Red”
    • “Keep Away From Eyes”
    • “Do Not Use If Seal Is Broken”
    And two of my favorites:
    • “Tear Here” and its evil twin, “Open Here”

    Evidently, “here” is relative, defined only by the one, or ones, granted the privilege of playing with my mind!

    The miniscule slit cut into the top of my Wednesday morning fruit snacks challenged every sense I own—except smell and taste. (Fruit snacks? Don’t ask—they were the healthiest sounding item among the unhealthy choices and I was hungry.) Chip bags, gum packages, shoe polish. . .when even the cheese slices defy access, I wonder at how complicated things have become.

    There was a time when opening was easy.
    • Turn the cap.
    • Rip the flap.
    • Pull a string.

    When it comes to location and the place to enter, how can we misunderstand something as everyday as “here”?

    I suppose it all depends upon where we are...

At First Bite
    In a classic true-to-life scene in a children’s story by Beverly Cleary, young Ramona Quimby takes one bite of the apples—yes, one bite of many apples, a whole bunch of apples with only one bite per fruit. Her reason, shared upon inevitable discovery?

    “But the first bite tastes best.”

    It does, doesn’t it?

    There’s something about the snap and spark of new. Be it in regard to unbitten food or unexplored life, we like firsts. And regarding the first bite into an apple, a first glimpse of the ocean, or our first breath:  we can never return to the time before, to that time when it wasn’t. Unlike Ramona and her apples, we most often have to journey past the first.

    To be sure, Ramona derived pleasure from each juicy, satisfying crunch. Had she not, she would have stopped sooner than later—and perhaps gone undetected as the apple biter. But she left clues, all those bitten apples. Even without CSI, dental imprints would have pointed in her direction.

    Think about all of life’s firsts. Which of them have borne repeating? How much of what we replay, revisit, or repeat still brings us joy?

    Hey, this is real life—we’re bound to bite into a worm once in a while; it doesn’t necessarily mean that we stop eating apples! The dilemma is this:  if we’re not deriving pleasure and happiness from life’s necessary repetitions most of the time, what can we do about it? What should we do?

    Many of us will not take just one bite of every piece of fruit in the bin; we who are landlocked are not likely to view the ocean anew every day; and none of us can return to our first newborn gasp. We can, however, view each morning (or afternoon or evening) as a place to continue. We can strive for the freshness of now, no matter how many times we’ve found ourselves here before. As everyday sounding as it might be, here and now are what we have.

    Whether or not we ascribe to Ramona’s principle that the first is always the finest, perhaps we can agree:  right or wrong, without that first bite she could not have left her mark on every apple she touched.