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Writer Without a Clause: My list of Firsts

Updated on January 15, 2020
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In his "Writer Without a Clause" articles, Chris writes about whatever is on his mind at the moment without research and without editing.

Yuri Gagarin, First man in Space and First Man to Orbit the Earth

Source

The History of the World: Who Did What First?

Firsts are a big deal. I remember being shocked to learn that the first person to go into space was Russian, not American. He was also the first person to orbit Earth. Those two firsts occurred on the same mission. Here are a few other notable firsts that come to mind. I can't give details because in my Writer Without a Clause hubs, I can't do any research. It's all right off the top of my head.

  • The first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
  • The first president of the U.S..
  • The first African-American president of the U.S.
  • The first flight around the world.
  • The first successful heart transplant.
  • The first telephone call.
  • The first radio broadcast.

Firsts can be launch pads to further accomplishments in the same field, rabbit holes that lead to new adventures, or choices that change the rest of our lives. Firsts have the potential to be positive experiences. They can also be ominously destructive.

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My First Crush and My First Girlfriend

My first girlfriend was not my first choice for that place in my life. I liked a girl before her but was terrified to even talk to her. The technical term is gynophobia. The girl I wanted to be my girlfriend went to the church my family attended. She was beautiful and sweet. Every summer, the children from church would join those from other churches at summer church camp. Toward the end of the week was an event known as "The Banquet." From about age 10 to 14, I never took a girl to the banquet. But that one girl was always there. I tried to muster the courage to ask her but failed every year. Finally, one day when we were about 16, I saw her with a guy and found out they were dating. The reality crushed me. Flashback—when we were about ten years old, we were playing hide and seek with other kids outside after church. I was hiding behind a bush, and "she" joined me. "Who do you like," she said. "I like you," I said. And that was as close as we ever got to a relationship. After high school, I visited her a couple of times at the local junior college. Following that, we lost track of each other.

So if she wasn't my first girlfriend, who was? Right? I met this girl at another church function when I was 17 years old. She was with a friend. Their names sounded similar. My buddy and I got their names and phone numbers. Actually, we each got both of their phone numbers. I finally got the nerve up to ask her to the junior/senior prom. I remember hiding in a dark stairway at my buddy's house and making the call. As soon as she answered, I knew I had screwed up. I was horrified. What should I do? How do I end this call? I had called the wrong girl. My buddy called the girl I had intended to call. I'll cut to the chase here. I took the "wrong girl" to the prom and dated her for a whole year. My buddy dated the other girl for two years. Was that first due to fate? Stupidity? Chance?

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My First Drink

I remember my first drink of alcohol. I was 20 years old and had moved to Oklahoma to live with friends. I hadn't realized it before, but they lived to party. I made many efforts to find friends that didn't live like that. One night, I met some people on my CB radio. I'm dating myself, I know. The year was 1978. They were going to a party and asked me to join them. They had alcohol, and I think I drank it all. I was drunk every day for the following year. I moved home and turned my back on drinking for many years. But it was a demon waiting for another opportune moment to strike. I'll cut to the chase one more time. The devil did strike again, and the results have always been the same as the first. That first drink was monumentally disastrous.

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My First Short Story

The first time I tried writing fiction was in my 7th grade English class. The teacher had us write a short story, and I was to write about The Little Ships of Dunkirk. During several days in 1940, hundreds of civilian boats sailed from England to Dunkirk in France to rescue tens of thousands of soldiers trapped on the beach with Nazi planes attacking. I don't remember the details of my story, but what I have never forgotten is that the teacher loved it. Through all of elementary, junior high, and high school, I was a less than average student. In third grade, the teacher suggested to my parents that I may be mentally retarded. That was the term they used then. But I had found a teacher in seventh grade that liked something I had written. That first has stuck with me all my life.

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The Takeaways

What's the theme? The commonly used phrase today is, what's the takeaway? I can think of four takeaway points.

  1. Almost a first-these are the moments in time when we miss opportunities out of fear. Remember the girlfriend I never had?
  2. What seems like pure chance or fate. These events seem to be out of our control or even in spite of our efforts to control the things of life. Example: my first girlfriend.
  3. Monumental disasters-These are choices we make that lead to negative results. We can't take them back, and they may haunt us for the rest of our lives, i.e. alcohol.
  4. A moment of success-This happens when we get the courage to try something new like writing a short story when we've never written anything more than our name up to that point. It could be anything that challenges us. We can take a long detour or face it head-on and maybe succeed.

Think of all the things in history that would never have occurred if one person decided that trying was too much work, or inconvenient, or painful. The butterfly effect refers to small changes that might have reverberating consequences in the larger world. Our firsts might not be as inconsequential as we think.

Source

© 2020 Chris Mills

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    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      17 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Thank you, Genna. I appreciate all of those thoughts.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      17 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Our firsts..they can have an effect on our lives we cannot know at the time the occur, or what the butterfly effect may have in store for us. Perhaps we will never know. Time can be a fascinating trickster. I enjoyed reading your first of firsts, Chris. And to think that in the third grade, someone had the audacity to suggest that you might be mentally challenged. It's amazing how certain teachers can inspire and encourage, while others may discourage and enervate. Excellent write. :-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      18 months ago from The Caribbean

      Chris, your stories are fun and insightful! I hope that along with the memories, they also bring back thoughts of mistakes you could have made, but didn't.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      18 months ago from london

      Thanks Bro.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Gilbert, It is good to see you again. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      18 months ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I enjoyed your personal life-lesson story, Chris. I agree with your assessment. Our first experiences in matters of learning and growing have a significant impact on how we proceed further through life.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Many of our best people...I'm not saying most...in our space and nuclear programs have been and are immigrants. Of course, they are still Americans, but may owe a lot of their childhood and university education to their home country. I don't think we are doing well in the education department that should be sourcing our science based industries with quality candidates. During the space race of the 50s,60s, and 70s the Soviets dominated early on. But when Kennedy announced we would be on the moon before the decade of the 60s was over, America surged ahead. You make an interesting point. If not for the lack of money, would the Russians be ahead at this time? Fortunately the Russian government is showing some good sense by not totally sacrificing the nation's economy and the health of the people to get ahead in the current competition for space domination. That is in contrast to what North Korea is doing with its nuclear program.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      18 months ago from london

      Chuckle. That's what I mean.

      By the way - no offence to America - but I heard that the Russians were greater in space technology at one point. Perhaps they still are, but the money has dried up, thus limiting their efforts. What are your thoughts there?

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Linda, I'm glad you enjoyed the article and that it caused you to reflect on the past. Nice to see you.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      John, I've listened to some of Tex Ritter's music, but Tex Morton is new to me. You are lucky to still have that story you wrote so long ago. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Pamela, It is good to look back and remember where we have been and to see how our choices have worked out.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting and thought-provoking article, Chris. You've got me thinking about my list of firsts. It's like a trip back in time.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Manatita, am I where I was 15 years ago? No. I was more religious then, but less honest. I prefer the present me.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      18 months ago from Gondwana Land

      Chris, I had been looking forward to another “Writer Without a Clause” article. What a great idea you had in writing your “List of Firsts.” You certainly got my mind ticking over to remember mine and brought some memories flooding back. It is a pity you didn’t keep a copy of your first story about the Little Ships of Dunkirk. I remember my first story I wrote at school was called “Patonia.” It was based about a horse by that name and based on a country song I heard and liked by Tex Morton I think, or was it Tex Ritter? Well it was Tex someone. I made it into a little book and drew pictures to accompany it.

      Anyway, good job on this. I enjoyed it.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      18 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This article sure made me think about mr firsts, especially my first date first job, first real boyfriend and so forth. It was fun to read for sure. The takeaways or the lessons learned is interesting as well. This is a very good article.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      18 months ago from london

      I talk to you, because you are quick to understand. Great! Again, in Yoga philosophies, so them as 'experiences' coming from the divine or let's call it Love, for the progression of the soul. Are you where you were 15 years ago? No! But if you are, (Lol) then start moving.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Ruby, sure you were held down when you were a child by others and sometimes by yourself. But look at you know. Like manatita said, it is only important that we rise again to meet the challenge and shine brighter than ever.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Liz, we can write autobiographically in so many ways. It all comes down to honesty and motive. Truth revealed for unselfish reasons can be helpful to others.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Manatita, it is a good reminder to not look at our pasts as good or bad, but as opportunities to rise higher next time. Good thoughts. Thank you.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      18 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Shauna, I have no idea what she said, I bellieve I fainted. haha, Really I have no idea.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      18 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh, how I could relate to your story. Fear of the unknown. lack of confidence kept me from doing many things. My mother had 12 children and I was the last, My mother's sister had one child, we were the same age, and every year they would give me her clothing. I would give them to my brother's daughter. My mother would always say, " Pride comes before a fall " We learn as we grow and make many mistakes, but we survive. Not in a million years did I ever think I would be a writer, but I think the desire was always there. I think that being poor as a child held me back from attempting to excel. I love how you opened up in this piece. Thank you.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      18 months ago from UK

      This is an interesting perspective for an autobiographical article.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      18 months ago from london

      I see that you are trying something different. Well written to my mind and you tell the story well. The messages have also come though.

      Ever the servant, I have to say that this is a divine game. What matters is not the success or failure, victory or defeat; not the joys and sorrows, but the ability to rise again and shine, like Maya Angelou. I just heard a woman from Africa or rather still in Africa, say only yesterday, that Maya is her idol.

      We can be our own Maya or Oprah and yes, there is another first -- you!! Always remember that and you will definitely shine. Much Love, my Brother.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      18 months ago from Central Florida

      This sends me back in time, Chris. It's been a while since I've pondered my firsts. I remember my first cat. I was in first grade and named the white ball of fluff Catherine. What I didn't know was Catherine was a boy kitty! See, in my mind all dogs were boys and all cats were girls. Where on earth did I get that from?!

      So, when you were playing hide n seek, and the girl of your dreams asked you who you like, what did she say when you said, "you"?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A fun read, Chris! Now you have me thinking. I can remember my first drink...my first girlfriend for sure...first job, a really big deal....thanks for the prompts, buddy!

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