A First for Everything

Dara LevanBlog3 Comments

Do you ever contemplate the meaning of one simple word? I do. I also find inflection and the expression of words intriguing. It’s one of the myriad reasons I love to write! Words convey meaning far beyond literal definitions or functions.

There’s a five-letter word floating through my head like an unsinkable life preserver. It’s bobbing in my brain and arising in recent days. The word is “first.” It pops into my consciousness consistently and persistently.

So today I decided to consult my friend Oxford. I typed f-i-r-s-t into my search engine. Apparently I’m not the only linguistically-obsessed person. There are not only multiple explanations for “first,” but even the number one—the first—definition has meanings within the initial heading. Check it out:

Ordinal number:

1. Coming before all others in time or order; earliest; 1st.

‘his first wife’

‘the first of five daughters’

‘Many valuable drugs have been recognized first as poisons.’


1.1 Never previously done or occurring.

‘her first day at school’

1.2 Coming or encountered next after a specified or implied time, event, etc.

‘the first house I came to’

1.3 Before doing something else specified or implied.

‘Do you mind if I take a shower first?’

1.4 For the first time.

‘She first picked up a guitar out of sheer boredom.’

1.5 informal The first occurrence of something notable.

‘We travelled by air, a first for both of us.’

1.6 The first in a sequence of a vehicle’s gears.

‘He stuck the car in first and revved.’

1.7 Baseball First base.

‘He made it all the way home from first.’

1.8 British The first form of a school or college.

1.9 A first edition of a book.

‘collectors of modern firsts’

Foremost in position, rank, or importance.

2. ’The doctor’s first duty is to respect this right.’

‘I always put myself first.’

‘Football must come first.’

Clearly I was not exaggerating because this sampling is only the start of a lengthy list! If you’re still reading this, I will stop there and share why this word is potent.

The Oxford Dictionary definitions did not satiate me. So tonight I asked Alec and Zoe. Between bites of rice and sips of soup, I said, “What comes to mind when I say the word “first?”

Alec, my first born, immediately replied. “First in line. First place. First impression.” Zoe looked toward the lake. She then said, “A new birth or somebody coming in the world. A new beginning. To start something fresh.” (Idea for another blog: How different are my kids?)

I ponder my first kiss, my first childbirth, my first audition, my first difficult hike. My heart’s tempo doubles as I think about the first time I met my husband. I smile as I reflect on the first piece I published at 13.

But life isn’t always full of positive firsts. The phrase “It’s the first day of the year” is spoken on January first. And it’s also used within “sweet and healthy wishes” as many Jewish souls celebrate Rosh Hashanah today. And then I thought about “the first holiday without a loved one” or another anniversary that may evoke sadness rather than joy.

I find rainbows in nearly all storms. I choose to and I suppose, on many levels, I have done so to survive. Although that may seem dramatic, it’s real, it’s honest, and it’s one of the “first” times I’ve publicly shared this raw revelation.

Some of my life’s “firsts” that ought to have been celebratory, meaningful, and acknowledged were instead ignored and dismissed. The pain that I numbed and denied first reared its head in my late ‘30s. I ignored it, made excuses for it, and compartmentalized it. I didn’t know then what I know now: It was a learned response of defense.

Instead of focusing inward, I turned outward and swam toward the light instead of being suffocated by the dark.  And quite frankly, I am glad I did—that is how I not only survived but also thrived.

I forgive those who hurt me knowingly and also those who are truly unaware, oblivious to how their actions affect others. It’s been too much burden to bear. I release it now like a fish that is unhooked.

When I was younger, I didn’t know that hurt and harm could transmute into strength and purpose. In fact, I thought much of my experiences were typical and normal. As I grow through what I’ve gone through, my foggy film of self-protection is dissipating.

And I have decided to choose happiness. I always have and always will. But this is more radiant. It’s unapologetic, unfiltered, and unwavering happiness. As Every Soul Has A Story has evolved, I am gradually healing and moving forward. I am going inward to share insights and hopefully connect deeply with you. And I thank you for being a pivotal part of another “first.”

3 Comments on “A First for Everything”

  1. That was very enjoyable. Thank you for sharing a part of your life, I look forward to reading your next post.

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