When I look back on my life and take stock of the things that have made and make me happiest, I don’t think about the material objects I’ve procured. I don’t think about the money I’ve made or the cars I’ve owned or the possessions stashed away in my garage. I think about the experiences.
There are the grand adventures: I did Outward Bound when I was 17. It was 28 days of rigorous experiences in the wild of New England — moment to moment instances where I had to “be here now or maybe die” — that majorly shaped the rest of my life, and for which I will be ever grateful. A journey to Europe alone at 22 with a backpack, a Eurail pass, and no agenda or itinerary (before the days of smartphones and apps and online reviews that eliminate the mystery of travel if you let them). The annual 10-day trip I take with my extended family to a part of the world we’ve never been. These are relatively expensive undertakings, and one could say “well, you could have purchased a new car, or updated your wardrobe, or remodeled your bathroom and have had a more ‘practical’ and ‘long-lasting’ use of the investment.” After all, a trip is over when it’s over, but that car will always be in your garage, they say. But the lasting images, feelings, impressions and life lessons of the experiences are always of greatest value to me. And having kids is at the top of that list.