I’ve known since the day Lucy was born that I was going to cry on her wedding day. (An ugly cry, too.) I’d rather cry in gratitude over all the cool memories we created than in regret over the things I missed out on.
Recently, Kim and I enjoyed a nice campfire chat with my family about what’s “next” for everyone. Discussion covered things like new homes, new renovations, and new additions to the family. At one point, we were asked, “So when are you guys getting your next house?”
We were taken a bit off guard by the question. Was something wrong with our current house? We mumbled something about debt we had to pay off first. Although that was true, it wasn’t the whole truth.
On our list of priorities, buying a bigger house or acquiring more stuff really isn’t that high. Yes, we would eventually like to own a beautiful home on a lake with a wraparound porch and a big stone fireplace. But our main priority is to stockpile memories. Rather than fill our home with stuff, we’d rather fill our life with adventures.
It seems that everyone hoards something. Some people hoard stuff. Some people hoard money.
We are memory hoarders.
Which one are you? When an unexpected $100 appears in your life, what’s your first impulse about where it should go?
When we have extra money after living expenses, some of it goes into savings, but the rest goes into experiences. Just this summer, we…
- Went to a bubble-blowing flash mob.
- Took the kids fishing with Grandpa.
- Hosted a summer cookout for our family.
- Went to a Madison Mallards baseball game and a month later, watched a fireworks show from the outfield.
- Saw How To Train Your Dragon 2 at the drive-in movie theater.
- Toured the Milwaukee Public Museum and learned about butterflies and dinosaurs and Native Americans.
- Played at Bay Beach amusement park in Green Bay.
- Spent a week in Galena, Illinois, with my family where we swam, played pool, and rolled down a huge hill overlooking the river.
- Helped Lucy run her first Lemonade Stand in order to raise money for Kindermusik (another experience.)
- Ate 18-inch corn dogs and sat awestruck at acrobats from Africa at the Wisconsin State Fair.
- Enjoyed an exciting performance by the Mad City Water Ski Team.
Many of the things on this list were completely free. Others cost money. But here’s the thing: We don’t have cable. We only have one car. We rarely buy new clothes or appliances or DVDs or any other thing that could be labeled as “stuff.” In fact, we are often selling old stuff so we can have more money for experiences. As soon as we finish one adventure, we’re already plotting our next one.
Will Dean, co-founder of the Tough Mudder endurance event series, sums up our attitude perfectly: “Experience is the new luxury. Unlike an iPhone, which depreciates over time, memories and experiences actually appreciate over time.”
Nowhere is this more evident than with the screensaver on our TV. It pulls our photos from the cloud and places them into a slideshow of picture frames on a horizontally-scolling virtual wall. Our most recent adventures, displayed in hi-def. Although we don’t have the nicest house or the newest furniture, It makes us feel incredibly rich as a family. It also serves as the perfect backdrop for Kim and I to talk about our next adventure.
On Lucy’s wedding day, I have no doubt that I will be proud and grateful to have been a memory hoarder.