iPhone, white jeans, lululemon gear, Vitamix, leather jacket—what do all these things have in common? Well, they are all material items. They were made in factories and shipped all over. More notably for our purposes, however, they are all things that I have longed for in the last year. Some of them graced my letter to Santa and others were gifts or items I scrounged together some cash to buy for myself. So now, I have them all. Sweet. Now what?
I have been thinking about this a lot recently. What do we do when we have it all? Do we finally feel complete? A whole human? Well, I have all the material possessions in the world, so I might as well just say goodbye now?
Going back and forth on this one. There are certainly material things I desire, and I do not think there is anything wrong with this (who decides what’s wrong anyway…). The items currently in my shopping cart are some select songs on iTunes, a brand new apartment, a new cell phone case where I do not have to take it off to plug it in to my speakers, and a chair for my healing table—because healing work does not translate well when the healer is uncomfortable. But really, I can do without all of this. Yes, shelter is an important survival tool, but I can certainly take the time to remove my phone from its case before I crank up my stellar Pandora quickmix. I’m not that pressed for energy.
I do not have any profound wisdom on this one, but what I know for sure is that I remember few of the moments of receiving these things. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased when the Vitamix trotted through the garage door and am looking forward to killer smoothies this summer. And I am grateful for all the gifts I have been given. For me, I’ve realized that it’s not just the item itself; it’s the exchange. I am giving you this gift to show my gratitude for your work, your words, your compassion. That’s what I remember.
When I look back at the most prolific moments of my life, they often have nothing to do with material items, and they could have been anywhere. How cliché—the best things in life are free. Sure, we all know the adage, but if we really knew it, wouldn’t we stop seeking fulfillment in materialism? Clearly we do not because the Mike Eruzione jersey from the Olympics just sold for $660,000 in an auction, though I am an die-hard Miracle fan. Nevertheless, those prolific moments are tied to the experiences I have had in my life, some of which cost money, but none I would trade.
Some experiences on my list:
- True gratitude
- Travel to Italy with Jen Pastiloff. Maybe it’s this year, maybe it’s next year.
- Write a best-selling book
- Win a state championship with my lacrosse team #BGLAX
- Hugs with meaning
- Bali, Hawaii, Vancouver
- Speak in front of a large crowd
- Sprint with reckless abandon
- Change a life
- Be near a body of water
The moments where I have laughed until my stomach ached and my cheeks were sore; where I felt real love; where I stood in awe of compassion, friendship, generosity, achievement, and artistry—these are the times I hold in my heart. Now, I am fulfilled.
And every once in a while, I need a reminder, too.