Sunday, January 13, 2013

The best things in life...

...aren't things.

When I look back on life fifty years hence, it's not going to be the big flat screen t.v. in my living room, the number of DVDs in my video library, the nic-nacs cluttering every flat surface in my house, or the watch on my wrist that come to mind. It'll be the friends I've hung from cliffs with, the rush of adrenaline I felt the first time I leapt into the rapids of a wickedly flowing river, the remembrances of flying low over the deserts of the Middle East, of seeing the bedouins with Mercedes SUVs parked outside their tents, the loves and the losses and then finally the look in my wife's eyes when she said "I do" at sunset. I'll remember my motorcycle tour through Europe and those exquisitely seductive roads curving through the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps, the silence of a ship with failed boilers in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the taste of a blood orange on a tortuously hot day in the Gulf and the first time I felt the skyscrapers of New York towering above me. I'll remember my first flight in an airplane and the view of the clouds from their topsides. I'll remember my first taste of a good scotch, the satisfaction of completing my first story, the euphoria after finishing a triathlon and a marathon, and especially the pain I'd feel the day after a marathon. I'll remember the sensation of "floating" through space as I looked into a bottomless abyss SCUBA diving in the Pacific, the jungle waterfalls I rappelled down with friends in Guam, the goosebumps on the back of my neck the first time I felt the true power of the wind at sea, the love of my animals and mine for them, and the loss I felt at their passings. I'll remember the barbecues with my friends and family, the backpacking trips into the backcountry of America, the beers over campfires, and the last moments I've spent with loved ones.

I'll remember a lot of things in life when I'm at the end of mine, but I'll be hard pressed to remember the furniture I had when I was twenty-six, or the clothes I wore when I was thirty-two.

When I look back on life it is those meaningful experiences and interactions that I'll remember most dearly, and not my material possessions. Buying something nice might put a bandaid over whatever void you're feeling in your life for a minute, but bandaids fall off with time. A good experience lasts a lifetime.