A hard start
On return trips, iron laws of behavior, and the problem of trying hurricane preparedness for the first time
Though it isn't quite an iron law, a good heuristic for life is to assume that the first time is usually the hardest. New experiences are, by their nature, the ones that typically cause the most struggle as we try to grasp new concepts, contextualize new information, and prioritize new challenges and opportunities.
■ That's at least part of why the first time down a path typically feels longer than the same trip the second time around. This "return-trip effect" reflects some of the weight of familiarity. And it's related to how we have to limit distractions when engaging in a real attempt to process meaning, like when motorists turn down the radio while searching for an address.
■ Southern California is about to go through a "first time" -- Hurricane Hilary is virtually certain to be the first tropical storm system to make landfall over Los Angeles or San Diego since 1939, or longer than the living memory of the preponderance of people. To have been an adult last time it happened would require being more than a century old today.
■ This "first time" is bound to be troublesome, even if nature itself backs off and the storm packs less of a punch than feared. A simple family picnic is likely to involve an unexpected challenge or two.
■ And Southern California is a region of more than 20 million people, so even the best-laid plans will be tested, particularly since the storm will be a novelty in modern times. The next few days are going to be challenging, in no small part because nobody remembers being in this spot before.