Its about the experiences

Lately my mind has been contemplating the value of experiences.  How much they impact our perspective on life, how much they affect the person we become — even the person we want to become.  We’re all born into a certain family at a certain place and at a certain point in time.  But once we get going, we get to choose how the remaining time is spent, in what place, and with whom.  Its our experiences that create who we are and form the story of our life.

But often in the U.S., the focus is on ‘stuff’.  We’re constantly bombarded with messages encouraging us to buy bigger, shinier things.  I think that instead of creating a sense of fulfillment, however, what we end up creating is clutter, expense, and dependencies.  I guess I would rather enjoy a week at the beach than buy a really expensive dining room table.  And I’m not alone, there a lot of people who favor a life of experiences, to a life of accumulating ‘things’:

In all honesty though, my husband Scott and I have followed the traditional path.  We are fortunate to own a lovely home near excellent schools.  Yet, while I appreciate what we ‘have’, I also resent the amount of time, effort, and money that is dedicated to ‘having’ this thing.  I’ve been taught that its important to save money for the future, and invest in things like a nice home and a dependable 401K .  But what if tomorrow never comes?  There are at least 10 places in the world on my bucket list I long to visit, and an untethered existence has appeal.  Maybe we should change course for a few years, fly away and spend some some time experiencing new cultures?

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. ~Diane Ackerman

With these thoughts already on my mind, I listened yesterday as my yoga instructor told our class how she’d decided she wanted less ‘stuff’ in her life, in her home, and in her head.  She’s clearing clutter, deciding not to upgrade her home or her car, and planning to spend more time meditating.  I felt envious picturing her unfettered and peaceful existence.  Of course, the truth is, we’re apples and oranges.

I’m in my 40’s, married mother of two.  She’s in her 20’s and single.  I can fantasize, but somewhere in the middle of my reverie Isabella is asking why I took all of her toys to the Goodwill, the 2 dogs are going nuts because they need a bigger yard, my in laws are calling to say they’re coming to visit, and I recall that we chose this house because its in the best school district for Sophia.

So while I sometimes struggle with living the traditional ‘American Dream’, I am very, very grateful for the life we’ve created.  Its not a feeling of regret, or a feeling of being displaced, its simply the yearning to get out and see the world too.  There is a certain aspect of ‘rut’ to day to day living.  The schedule marches forward, the needs are regular although the demands are varied.  And we spend much of our time working at our careers, our hobbies, parenting our children, and maintaining a home.  The days can sort of blur together, leaving us asking ourselves … is this all there is?

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think. ~Chinese Proverb

Yes, its all there is sometimes.  But when the daily grind wears us down, its time to get ‘away’ and experience something worthy of taking a photograph. Scott and I don’t look at vacationing as a ‘luxury’, although it is a gift.  We look at it as the time when we can disconnect from the day to day, re-connect with each other, and bring us into the world outside our norm. On this blog, we’ve written about all kinds of experiences that fed us, enriched our lives, opened our eyes and helped us stretch.  Just last month we shared the moment when Isabella rode a ski lift for the very first time in her life, and Sophia took on a black run.  Now we have new stories, new shared memories, and broader lives.  And Sophia created a new life experience to share, here’s her review of Appalachian Ski Mtn.

I have vivid memories of most of our vacations, but one week-end getaway in particular comes to mind when I think about growth, connection, life.  Truly, its about the experiences:  A week-end trip to Camp Soar

If its been awhile since you got out and lived a new experience, what are you waiting for?


Feelin’ groovy near the hiking trail on the Ka’NaPali coast, Kauai

  • Great post! I had to go back and read my post on camp SOAR. It hit me hard again remembering the experience. Even if others don’t find and read the content, writing is an incredible way to “replay memories”, something I for one find extremely valuable! I talk about it briefly in my latest personal blog post . Love you, -Scott

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