“Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” ― Dr. Seuss
The chicken pot pie before the crust is broken. The first bite into a juicy apple. The heat coming on as you stand over the register absorbing the warmth. Sitting at your clean and orderly desk before the project begins. Smelling the freshly mowed grass. The first whiff of a bonfire. The first day of school. The last day of school. Lights coming on after being without power. There are moments every day which come and go. Meaningful moments become meaningful memories, and if we are lucky their value can be appreciated for many years.
Waiting patiently and expectantly, I just look at my cup of coffee contemplating how that crema gets there and why it tastes so delicious. The first smell and first slurp of coffee are happy moments in my day, and they have nothing to do with a caffeine fix. I can think of moments throughout my life that have filled me with a good feeling–and moments that have left me with bad memories. It is life’s moments that become the snapshots or photographs that fill my album, and that is why spending money on things is making less sense than ever and savoring moments seems to be a smart move.
It seems that there are two ways of thinking about enjoying life: I need more things to be happy and I want to experience more to be happy. The phone that is smarter, the vacuum that has more suction, the shoes that will give you more speed, any number of items that will make you feel more important and grant you higher status in the eyes of beholders, or the trip that will take you away from the boredom of every day — all items and experiences that we really are simply hoping will elevate our quality of life. But as you pull the marshmallow off the end of the stick after it has been roasting over the fire, and the crisp outside cracks under the pressure of the your teeth, you are reminded that moments don’t have to be expensive or glamorous to become valued memories.
Research shows there are two peaks in life — ages 23 and 69. It seems that as a person leaves their 20’s, their happiness tends to level out for a bit. I’m guessing it’s because the responsibilities that fall on most of us between 30 and 60 are stressful at times. There will be many moments of happiness in those years, but it won’t be until you are in the 60-80 year old range that a new happiness arises. “Mankind is wrong to dread aging,” The Economist wrote, noting that happiness arcs through the average individual’s lifespan. “Life is not a long slow decline from sunlit uplands towards the valley of death. It is, rather, a U-bend.” I wonder how many of the moments we experience in our early years feed our happiness in later years.
I hit that first peak a long time ago and have had many moments that are valued memories today. If you are on the younger side of the scale, make this a time to experience life more and things less. The phone will be outdated, but the trip to the beach and the memory of the sand beneath your feet and the smell of the saltwater will revive you in tense moments. If you are beyond me in years, you’re in what many say is the happiest part of life. Look around to find experiences that continue to build in your ‘memories’ bank.
It is tempting to believe that life’s value lies in the size of your home or the gadgets you own, but look closely and you will find that every day holds moments to be valued, becoming treasured memories. Share those with someone and enjoy the crema on your cup of coffee.