Lasts and Firsts
a writing prompt + May Writing Hour this Saturday
Welcome to new subscribers to Writing in Company. I’m glad you are here! Each week I share a brief thought and a writing prompt. They are meant to be a jumping-off point for you to do some writing on your own about what matters. Use the prompts however you like—to journal, to draft thoughts for your own writing project, as meditation ideas, or for another creative endeavor. Grab your pen and paper, and enjoy.
May is a month of lasts and firsts.
Last gatherings of church groups for the year. First fruits in the farmer’s market nearby. Last days of school for many. First days of summer break.
Across the field today, the church parking lot fills with cars for a preschool end-of-year program. When I drive by on my way to the farmstand for more strawberries, I see the four and five-year-old class singing and dancing outside while their paparazzi parents film them. It’s their last week of school in their last year of preschool.
The garbage truck in front of me honks at them in celebration and the kids wave back in delight. Is it the first time a garbage truck has honked for them? Or the last time they will wave back at one?
Some of those young parents will soon send their first child to kindergarten. Honestly, that seems like me, just yesterday. In reality, I’m now the parent of adults. They pay their own rent! Pay taxes! (And some of the phone bill….)
If we are fortunate and pay attention, even our hardest lasts lead to new firsts. The five-year-old has her last day of preschool and goes to kindergarten where she ties her shoes for the first time. The last day with a grown child at home leads to the first day they come home just because. The last time we speak to a lost loved one leads to the first time we realize we carry them with us.
Does every first also signal a last?
And is every last the gateway to a first?
I don’t know for sure, but writing about firsts and lasts might help us find out.
a writing prompt
First: choose a first in your life—your first parking ticket, first job, first loss, first communion, first marriage, first kiss, first pet. Write the story of it using concrete details.
Next: write about what that first meant in terms of a related last.
Last: write about something you know (or perhaps hope) is a last in your life, and dare to wonder on the page what first it might allow.
a poem to share
—by Linda Pasten
You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead—that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.
But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first—
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?
You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
May Writing Hour - this Saturday, May 27 at 4 pm Eastern
Our next live writing hour on Zoom for paid subscribers is this Saturday, May 27 at 4 pm Eastern. If you want to write in company with others, you are welcome to join us. You can upgrade your subscription for a month ($7) just to try it. A separate email to paid subscribers will go out soon with the link, or you can find it on my Substack tab called Writing Hours. Let’s write together.
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