Probably the one chance

I have been reminded lately — or perhaps all through the pandemic — about a false form of abundance in our social relations. When an opportunity arises to do a certain thing in a certain place with a certain person, it can easily feel like one optional example in an ongoing string of comparable offers. The perspective which I now see as more accurate and helpful is that it’s best to assume that will be the only chance you ever get for that particular thing. Outside of our control people drift in and out of our lives, and places and opportunities similarly become closed off or changed.

It can be hard to cope with the sense of loss that accompanies this realization, the recollection of all the proposed plans and assumed opportunities at another chance. Probably the most psychologically adaptive response is to focus on gratitude and the appreciation for the things that chance and timing did allow to happen. I suspect that appreciation is usually inhibited by the feeling that each experience is just an example of an opportunity that arises cyclically. By contrast, living through each experience with the feeling that it will be the only time probably helps us concentrate our attention on what is happening.

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