I remember the first time I kissed a girl. Her name was Pam. I knew right then I was in love. I was going to marry her and spend the rest of my life with her. We were going to have three kids and live in a nice home in the country. I wasn’t sure where the kids would come from since I hadn’t yet learned about sex but they were in the vision. I’d come home from work every day to her and the kids greeting me at the door and she’d plant one of those amazing kisses on me every day for the rest of my life. It would be perfect. We’d all live happily ever after just like the fairy tales.

Unfortunately, it never happened. In hindsight I guess it was never meant to be. I was 10 years old and Pam was my cousin. Where I grew up in northern New Hampshire it was believed that people married their cousins but I never actually knew anyone who did. But MAN O MAN, that first kiss is a memory I’ll have forever. There’s nothing like that first time no matter what it is. The first time I stayed up on the bike, or hit a baseball, or got high, or held my first born son. First times are truly the bomb. That nervous excitement of anticipation followed by that “HELL YEAH” of breaking through.

When we were kids there were so many first times and I was pretty fearless. Whatever it was, I just jumped right in without giving it much thought. Sometimes it would turn out to be a disaster, like the time I tried to build a campfire in the woods like I saw them do on some TV show (I think it was the Mickey Mouse club). I ended up setting the woods on fire and getting my ass whooped by my dad. Despite my masterful attempt to blame my sister, he wasn’t buying it. That freakin hurt.

It would be quite some time before I played with fire again. Not forever, of course, because I really loved fire. I just needed some time to forget about the pain of dad’s belt landing on my glutes.

A couple years later I’d indulge myself again but it never felt as good as the first time. Today, I realize that’s the case with everything. I used to get confused about this because we all get better at things with practice but that’s way different in the way we feel. A feeling I get from a sense of mastery (satisfaction, confidence, etc) is far different than the feeling of trying something for the first time. (excitement, exuberance, uncertainty). They’re two completely different types of emotions, both equally important for a healthy, balanced life. I remember Anthony Robbins speaking about our 6 basic human needs and 2 of them were our need for certainty and our need for uncertainty. At the time, this really confused me because they seemed to contradict each other. It wasn’t until I associated the emotions with each of them that it became perfectly clear what he was talking about.

The confidence in knowing that if I do xyz I can expect a certain outcome, comes from the experience of doing something over and over and gives me comfort and security. Those are really great feelings to have but if I stopped there I’d probably weigh about 400 lbs, be living in my parents’ basement watching Seinfeld reruns, and scratching myself. I don’t know about you but, to me, comfort without excitement is almost the same as being dead. We don’t all have to be cliff divers or astronauts but we do need the thrill that comes with new experiences. (There’s a reason why BB King’s song “the thrill is gone” is called “Blues).

Many of us have been beaten down so many times from the painful experiences that came with trying new things that we’ve pretty much given up on them. The truth is that there have been just as many pleasurable ones but it’s always that damn pain which lingers the longest in our brains.