“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
The call came, “Hey! I’ve ended up with two extra tickets to a great show. I know it’s last minute, but do you want to go?” Well, there was a bathroom to clean, laundry to wash, and she thought she might go on to bed early. Of course, that was her response every time someone offered an invitation. This time was going to be different, though. She threw caution to the wind, reminded herself that the laundry and bathroom could wait a day, and jumped in the car with a cap on her unstyled hair. At the end of the evening, she reflected on how much she had laughed, and she understood Roosevelt’s words — the purpose of life is to live, to taste, and to experience.
When our youngest son (at 13) wanted to attend a concert several hours from home (Gwar), it never crossed my mind to tell him ‘no’, but instead to hop in the car and drive 3 1/2 hours, and then sit in the ‘parental audience’ section of the concert. Being a part of his experience mattered to me. Buying him the nicest sneakers did not.
Do experiences matter more than things? Is it more important to enjoy a meal with friends than to be able to have a television channel you watch a few times a year? It depends on who you ask and what a person’s goals are.
Happiness is a goal most of us have. Think about what has made you feel ‘happiness’ in your life. I am sure that loud concert will count as one of my son’s happy moments.
Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are often accused of warped values, but really it seems they might have a better handle on valuing experiences more than things. Research shows that they recognize how much more important it is to experience life. They are choosing to worry less about someone denting their car door and more about the places the car can take them. Living in vans, traveling the country, they are soaking up all they can while they can. Baby Boomers were the opposite as young people, valuing a nice home, car, and things more than adventures. Maybe that is changing, and maybe a balance of things and experiences is the best answer.
Many people have spent years saving for more beautiful things — clothing, appliances, cars — thinking that would somehow make them fit in with friends who invariably had more money. We certainly struggled with that at times, the whole ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ thing. We learned quickly, though, that we wanted our children to be able to participate in activities that would enrich their lives, as well as allowing ourselves opportunities to see plays, hear music, and experience life. The value of memories made doing and seeing is much greater than worrying about a treasured item being broken. And so, we’ve adjusted our spending as we’ve gotten older.
Experiences feed life more than things.
Our children have been teaching us about the value of experiences. One son drove to Canada by himself at 18 and eventually drove to Colorado to live. The other son hikes with his wife (when they aren’t working) all around the state seeing beautiful waterfalls and around the country seeing the beauty nature has provided. Our kids are millennials and are tasting life in a way we think looks pretty appetizing. We’ve decided that in our last third of life, we want to see more, experience more, and worry less about acquiring things. It will be an adjustment, though not nearly the adjustment our friends have made in their move to a Tiny Home.
Letting go of things to enjoy life is indicative of a healthy revelation.
My Baby Boomer friend told her Millennial children that she would do anything they asked her to do as long as they did it with her. She’s climbed rocks, surfed, snowboarded, kayaked, and been backstage at a runway model fashion show. The Baby Boomers are changing in their later years, embracing adventure and experiences. Some are fortunate enough to enjoy adventures and bring home treasures to remind them of the experience. That’s a bonus for sure! When I come to the end of my life, I hope that I will have tasted the food at life’s buffet, having enjoyed and experienced the beauty it has had to offer wherever I’ve been.
Happiness comes from enjoying life. Reach out and experience what you’ve put off, taste and enjoy even the simplest things nature and man have provided. Find a friend, go for a walk, skip the store, make some memories, and take pictures of all of the beauty for another generation to enjoy.