‘Once in a lifetime.
Once in a lifetime.’

Repeated my 72 years young friend Pholung, as we trekked up a cliff on an island off the Andaman coast in Thailand.
We were ascending to reach a spot from where we could pssiblyp see a peculiar sea creature called ‘Dugong’, also known as the sea cow.

Phulong was spirited in each moment as he took tiny steps up the cliff. I would help him out with my hand at difficult spots but for his age, he was supremely fit.

At a point on the way when we stopped to catch a breath he turned to me and said,

‘You know, I have lived in Thailand all my life, yet I never came to this island to see this beautiful creature.
Now, I realise I have limited time on earth, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’

‘And you are going to see a Dugong today for sure. Better late than never’, I said encouragingly.

‘Once In a lifetime.’ he kept on repeating with bountiful joy in his spirit. His eyes shone bright like an emerald in feeble daylight.

At that moment I thought to myself,

‘You know, it is quite likely this is also a once in a lifetime experience for me. Chances are slim that I will ever come to this remote island in the Andaman sea again.’

I wondered why, despite it being a once in a lifetime experience for both him and I, it held so much importance to him.
I guess, that at his age, he understands the importance of time and the finiteness of existence much better than I do.

But does one really need to get old to realise how most of the experiences we have in life are once in a life time experiences?
One does not necessarily grow older to be wiser !

Once we realise that most of the things we do as a chore might be the last time we do them, we might attribute much more value to the experience.

How many of us remember the last time we played in the school ground with our friends? Or the meal granny would cook for you whenever you visited her?
The last time you appeared for a written exam?
Or the last time you embraced a loved one you are not together with anymore?

Chances are that none of us remember the last time we did these things. Because these things became so mundane that we didn’t attribute them the value they deserved.

Had we cherished each of the above experiences with a solemn realisation that it could be the last time we experience it,
the event would have been much memorable. And you would have the same fascination and gratitude in your eyes as my friend Phulong did when we was ascending the cliff to see the Dugong.

Accept all everyday experiences with gratitude and you will make amazing memories filled with fascination and wonder.

The next time you embrace a loved one, or eat your favourite dish at home,
Gently remind yourself,

‘Once in a lifetime,
Once in a lifetime.’

To more fascination, gratitude
And light,
in your eyes.