Far too often are we worried about what we own; or more importantly what we don’t. Car payments, cell phone bills, the newest shoe or video game. Who drives what car and who is wearing what new thing. What is all of that? Are we just filling a hole, a void in our lives with “things”? Remember, when I say “we” I am including myself, I’m just as guilty as the next guy, which is the reason (most of the time at least) I write these blogs, rants or what ever you want to label them. We fill our time scrolling and surfing (not the cool kind that involves water, tanned skin and the position of the moon), browsing and playing games. Why is that? Why do we feel the need to remain constantly entertained? What happened to just being? Being still not just physically but mentally. Next time you are at the DMV or a grocery store, anywhere where there is an opportunity to wait in line, watch people. The second they stop moving, the hand goes in the pocket (or purse) and out comes the life line, the crutch, the baby sitter…the thing that has us all tethered. We are constantly bombarded with stimulus in our everyday lives. The internet, TV, movies, even billboards and our clothes. I’m afraid it is numbing our senses. I’m afraid that we won’t be able to experience things like our ancestors…or even like our parents. What drives this? Consumerism? Are these companies force feeding us information so that we stay awake and buy..Stay awake and buy! Sounds silly but I don’t think it is too far fetched. No one gets excited about things anymore. I watch people constantly, in my wanderings, walk up to some beautiful building, monument or landmark and without hesitation turn away from it and take a selfie. Turn your back to the thing you went to see and then snap a quick pic and walk away. Really? Listen, I take selfies too. They have a purpose. They put you in the memory that you are sharing. I get it. Just take a minute and look. Really look and memorize what you are seeing. Smell the air, listen to the sounds of the wind, water, wildlife, or even the silence. No picture or video will ever replace that memory so do your best to be in that moment so that it can stay with you forever. I am usually so consumed with absorbing what is in front of me that I forget to take the selfie; making sure I have no proof of being there, so that is something that I need to work on as well. I digress.
The more possessions we have, the more our anxiety increases. Interest rates, late payments, maintenance..etc. Everything is disposable now, making sure nothing has real value. “It’s ok if it breaks I’ll just buy a new one”. Products are made cheaper so that we can use them, break them, discard them…and buy more. That thought process is beginning to leek into our everyday lives, making our relationships disposable as well. Watch how fast your friends go from relationship to relationship. It’s staggering. As I look around my house I see all kinds of shit I don’t need. At the time of purchase I had to have it…I “needed” it. Now, somewhere under the blanket of dead skin, insect waste and space particles is that thing, that “must have” item sitting there completely purposeless. This speaks volumes to our current economic situation as well. We buy, buy, buy without thinking about what we are buying. It’s habitual. It’s heart breaking. Is it that we are constantly distracted and spending gives us a sense of accomplishment? I’m getting to my point I swear.
We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. – Richare Wagamese
Before all of these amazing inventions and technological advances (and I do mean amazing, I’m not being facetious) we had stories. Stories of adventure, of pain, of joy and wonder. Grandfathers sitting their children’s children on their laps and telling them incredible fables. True or false, they were captivating the first and the fourteenth time. What happened to that? What happened to our quest for knowledge and purpose? What happened to choosing experience over expense? We’re too busy working to make ends meet that’s what. Living from paycheck to paycheck; saving up to get a better boat or car then our neighbor; or that new device, that new “thing”. Slowly chipping away at that credit card for that ridiculous ring we paid far too much for, to show that we loved someone. I’m not suggesting that these actions are all the work of the devil. Nor am I positing that working hard to have the money, to buy something that makes you feel good about your success (a new watch, a new car etc) is a bad thing, because it’s not. I am, however, asking why. Why we feel the need to stuff anything we can afford into our shopping bag lives. Moderation. Moderation should be what you are thinking right now. But, spending makes us feel alive, important and successful. It’s a declaration of our stature in the community. But, that needs to change. Those possessions, those “things” will break. They will get old and out of date. They will get lost. They will eventually be owned buy someone else. If it doesn’t break we will eventually upgrade. Technology will perpetually be ahead of itself continuing the cycle of spending and owning.
Let’s be defined by the wear and tear of our passports, not our credit cards.
Memories. Experiences. Savior faire. These words speak volumes in my life. These are the “things” I want to own. These are the “things” we all should want to own. You can’t take your toys with you to the grave. Experiencies fill your soul with something that can’t be purchased. A joy that can’t be found at Walmart or Bestbuy or Amazon. Let’s minimize our lives. Let’s be defined by the wear and tear of our passports, not our credit cards. I do realize there is a time and a place, even a need to purchase things. My point is that we should keep that to a minimum. Let’s build photo albums instead of DVD collections. Create stories to tell. Your memories will forever be yours and by sharing them will last forever, essentially making you live forever.
Are we being controlled by the media and commercialism to be made to think that we are what we own? Or can we break that mold; can we push through the stigma of not owning the next best thing and define ourselves by our actions and not our purchases? Can we choose Experience over Expense?
Turn off the TV, close the laptop, put our cell phones in a drawer and go outside. We don’t even have to travel the world; if anything just go to a park or sit on a front porch and become part of our own lives instead of just absentee observers. Be present. Be present when talking to people instead of thinking about our next tweet. Drink beer, go to a zoo, read a book. Learn to appreciate the things and moments in our lives before they are gone or worse, we loose the capacity to enjoy them all together.
Choose Experience over Expense.
I’ll see you out there, Let’s Get Weird
Written for ADVENTUREFITTRAVEL.COM