That first made me glad,
Put a smile on my face,
But that first was a bit bad,
Made me cry in disgrace,
I have some firsts which confuse me,
I have some firsts which I forgot,
I have some firsts I did not foresee,
More firsts will come, I know, a lot,
More firsts will teach, don’t you agree?
But will you learn?
-Mahnoor Anees Khan
On 17th of January, 2016 at 11:33 pm, I started writing my very first blogpost. Thus, inspiring the topic – Firsts.
I asked my mother a few days ago, what the most memorable first of her life was. Her quick answer was having her first child, my eldest brother. In obvious disappointment at the lack of my name being mentioned, I made a face. She laughed and continued, “I have another first. When I was young, my brother gave me my first camera”, her eye glazed over at the hazy memory and she said, “It was a Canon and I loved it.” Her smile as she recalled those moments of her childhood made me wish I had a camera.
When I asked people to share their firsts with me, they responded with, “But there are so many firsts in my life!”. The response was expected, as we do not register every first as a first. Because first of all, all firsts are not held with identical ardours as others are. This probably happens because not all firsts are pleasant ones. The first time your heart breaks, the first time you lose a family member, the first time you lose a friend, the first day after a car accident or even the first time you see someone lose life in your arms. These firsts might not be the ones you would want to relive and recount every moment of, however, they are firsts you remember. They are firsts that teach you patient, understanding, hope and compassion; if you’re ready to learn. Unlike firsts which are so exponentially blissful that you would want to rewind and reply that moment forever. The first time you hold your child in your hands, the first time you receive your salary after working hours for it, the first time you wear a doctor’s coat and see the pride in your parents’ eyes, the first time you learn a new language, the first day of a new friendship, the first time you receive an award or even the first time you get a camera as a gift from your brother.
When I asked my father on what memorable first he would share with me, his answer was not exactly what I had expected. He spoke of the first patient who passed away in his arms as he was speaking to her. My follow up question was if doctors get used to that feeling. My eldest brother, who is also a doctor, told me of how getting used to it wouldn’t be the option, accepting it would. He told me, “Doctors have to be the rocks so that they can take care of the patients they can save and not be swept away by the patients they are unable to”. And then he told me about a revolutionary man, Dr. Ayub Khan Ommaya, a renowned neurologist who invented the Ommaya reservoir. The Ommaya reservoir is a system for delivering chemotherapy to the brain, this innovative concept created by Dr. Ommaya was the first of its kind. This impressive feat is an inspiration to me probably because it wasn’t a necessary invention. It was created to significantly reduce the suffering of cancer patients as they require frequent injections and this reservoir averts that particular need.
Firsts are a very essential part of the human experience. How have we, as a race, created firsts and moved on to the seconds and the thirds? The illustrious mountaineer, George Mallory, one of the first men to climb Mount Everest was asked why he wanted to climb it. The answer he provided was simple – Because it’s there. It is not that other men before him did not try and it is certainly not the last time anyone ever will. However, George Mallory is one of the first men in the history of mankind to step onto the imposing white giant and claim the freshly fallen snow of the peak to be his.
My theory is, firsts happen because they need to happen. A part of your life has a blank which needs filling. A first is a step to a second and then to a third and so on, which makes experience. So, fill in the blanks and keep filling news firsts in life.