I’ve long been a proponent of using budgeted vacation money to buy experiences over using it to buy things. Things break. Things have to be maintained. Things get stolen, they wear out, they go out of style, and they get thrown into a corner of your attic and forgotten. Not so with experiences. Experiences create memories and memories are long treasured after things have worn out. Memories are passed down to subsequent generations of family and friends.
I believe it was the late Senator Paul Tsongas who said:
No one on his deathbed ever said, I wish I had spent more time at the office.
The question is: where do you think people on their deathbed wish they had spent more of their time? My theory is that they wish they had spent more time with family and friends, more time experiencing great places and events, more time teaching children and grandchildren … and learning from them. More time experiencing life and all its richness, less time buying things that won’t last. I recently lost a family friend who suddenly died of heart failure. This guy was a blast to be around. He lifted spirits everywhere he went and he always had a smile or a gut-busting laugh about something. His personality was infectious and his specialty was encouragement. Before he died, he confessed something that stunned me. He confessed his regrets – his regrets about what he did for a living, what he didn’t do that he wished he had, the girl he didn’t marry (he remained single for 65+ years), the children he didn’t have, the life he didn’t live. I was amazed that someone so positive and uplifting to others was down in the doldrums himself. His unexpected death shocked me and my family. More shocking were his confessions. I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want the office to suck so much life from me that I don’t live at home because of the stress I bring home. I don’t want business and the thrill of competition in the marketplace to mold me into someone my children love, but don’t want to be around. Someone they are satisfied to see just once or twice per year because I’m an ogre to be around unless it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. Someone who dies with the respect of my family, but who has regrets a-plenty. That’s one reason why I take my wife and children on vacations and trips but we don’t have an enormous home theater entertainment system. We go to interesting places in the USA, but I don’t own a boat, or a four-wheeler, or a Harley Davidson, or an iPad, or a sports car, or a McMansion, or a host of other toys that will wear out. I’d much rather take my family on a trip to Seattle (using CityPASS of course), or take my wife hang-gliding over Lookout Mountain outside of Chattanooga, or take a hot air balloon ride (still on the bucket list), or experience Yellowstone National Park. Those experiences have created memories that will last a lifetime. We still laugh about our experiences and recount to each other and to friends the great times we had as a family. You don’t have to go on trips to New York or Los Angeles to create memories though. You can create memories just by making a new recipe, or camping in the backyard, or taking a walk through the woods near a park, or going to the county fair with the kids. Great memories from your experiences are waiting on you. All you have to do is make them, and then recount them to others to make them outlast anything you can buy at the mall. So leave your office cell phone at the office and experience life with the ones you love. You won’t regret it. Photo credits:
- Hang gliding photo by audreyjm529
- City of Seattle by yours truly – from atop the Space Needle