First Steps

A friend sent me a video this weekend of his daughter taking her first steps. It was as adorable as you would expect; the wobbly, chubby legs propelling her forward, arms raised for balance, a burst of momentum carrying her through the last, fumbling step and into her father's arms. A symphony of squeals, cheers, and laughter filled the room and the person next to me at the coffee shop wondered what could be making me smile so big.

Our young lives are filled with firsts. Better, our young lives are fueled by them, as each discovery and accomplishment powers the next adventure. First steps and words, first day of school and soccer match, first new tooth and lost tooth. My wife created an "I Can Do It!" book for our son and filled it with artistic reproductions of achievements small and large. We stopped adding to it about the time he started school, but sometimes I want to track it down and add a new section of firsts like driving and concerts, job interviews and college applications, replete with construction paper collages and colorful crayon descriptions.

Seen through this lens, firsts are at the core of a well-lived life. As we step into adulthood, firsts can be buried beneath to-do lists, queues, and notifications about small things we've missed. Staying on top of all the day-to-day, hour-by-hour things provides a satisfying sense of accomplishment, but not the confidence and perspective that comes from a first art class, first time volunteering for a campaign, or first visit to another continent.

The energy and rush of excitement that is reflected in those moments is irresistible, even if you're watching from hard chairs in the auditorium or waiting at the finish line. Firsts breathe life into us, whether it's you or someone you love experiencing it.

I want to chase more firsts in my life, and stand beside my friends as they run a marathon, start a business, adopt a child, or step on stage for the first time.

Firsts push the boundaries of who we are.