A few weeks ago, I went rock climbing in Pocatello, Idaho, with some friends. I left my backpack in the backseat of the car as my friends and I enjoyed the sunshine and new routes. After a few hours, we decided to call it quits and head back to Rexburg. Once in the car, I noticed that my backpack was nowhere to be found. I immediately panic, checking the backseat, the front seats, the trunk, and even went back to where we were rock climbing to see if I somehow brought it with me and just forgot. In tears, I concluded the backpack was stolen. Inside my stolen backpack were my laptop; my brand-new, just-bought-the-day-before wallet with my credit and debit cards, my journal, headphones and other small things like chapstick and trail mix. We quickly rushed to the police station, filed a report and went with the police to the last known spot my phone tracked my laptop to — a park that was about 20 minutes away from where we were rock climbing.
Throughout the chaos of canceling my cards and trying to find a needle in a haystack, one thought kept going through my mind.
“It’s going to be all right. All of this is replaceable. The important thing is no one was hurt.”
That recurring thought calmed me down enough to actually enjoy the search for my missing backpack. It was fun watching the police fingerprint our car. Seeing people’s confused faces as we wandered around the park was priceless. I even found myself smiling as I realized this event would give me an interesting story to tell.
Many people today are wrapped up in “keeping up with the Jones’s,” always needing to have the best clothes, the best decorations, the most expensive things money can buy. They fill their homes up with stuff that looks nice but has no real value.
Yes, we need a certain amount of possessions to function in this world, and even more to make life comfortable and enjoyable. But after a certain point, we’re just accumulating stuff we don’t need. Instead of owning our possessions, they begin to own us as we work to care for our material goods. Caring for our things often ties us down in ways we never intended.
I once had a friend refuse to go somewhere with me because she didn’t want to ruin her expensive shoes. Caring for her shoes prevented her from doing something fun. That was when I decided I never wanted to have what I was wearing stop me from doing something I wanted to do, like when I went fishing and played in the mud while wearing a white shirt on vacation in Alaska. I decided the worst thing that would happen would be a stain or a tear in my clothes, and the gross stain or terrible patch job would just make yet another interesting story. Since then, I feel free to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
We can’t take any of our possessions with us when we die. Things can be lost, broken, damaged or stolen at any time. You never know when a house fire or natural disaster could strike and leave it all wasted.
That’s why I believe it is more important that we make the most out of each day and collect memories, not things. We can go to new places, have new experiences, meet new people and learn and grow along the way. We will have a more fulfilled life and a more fun-filled one too. Plus, those memories and experiences can go with us after we die.
And if nothing else, it will make us more interesting at parties.