“The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things”

My friend delivers me a little card with the quote, “the best things in life aren’t things,” from journalist Art Buchwald.

I want to remember that.

Love, friendship, ideas, creativity, conversations.  These things I can’t hold in my hand.  

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Journal:  When you think about your “best things” in life, are they objects you’ve purchased? 

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What College Freshmen Said They’d Keep Forever

After our project on how advertisers persuade us to purchase a whole array of non-essential items, I ask my students to name one thing they’ll keep forever.

Baby blankets (some brought them to college)
Military dog tags
Jewelry given from parents or grandparents
Musical instruments
Photographs

Not one student mentions anything related to trendy clothing or technology.  Nobody claims any attachment to their phones (we’re addicted, not attached!), their laptops, their purses, or their toys.

I realize that most things I’m tempted to purchase for my children have no lasting value.  What does?  Simple fabric objects of attachment, emblems of service to our nation, symbols of love passed down from generations before, musical instruments, and experiences captured on film.

If we pare down and trim off the excess of our lives, we’ll find what really matters.  As I raise my daughters in a world saturated with stuff, I might ask myself before I buy it, “Will they keep this forever?  What would this purchase symbolize?  Can it be an emblem? An experience?  A musical object?”

My students’ answers remind me of what I love and value.

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Journal:  What do you own that you’ll keep forever?

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Only the Essentials

My neighbor advises me how to pack for an entire summer in one tiny little bag.  Her family travels for months at a time with only one duffel bag each.

Impossible!

Well, I did it.  I listen to her advice about essentials.  For once in my life, I don’t over-pack.   I get bare-bones about it, and I actually have room to spare.  One skirt, three tops, two pants.  Everything coordinates.  Two shoes:  one pair of sandals and one pair of running shoes.  A sweater.  Toiletries. 

It feels so free to cast off the entanglements of too many clothes, too many shoes, too many this or that.  What if I lived like this all the time and gave the rest away?

Living with flair means simplifying.  That’s the first lesson of my summer travels!

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Journal:  What else can I simplify this summer?

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