Friday, September 30, 2011

Creating Experiences, Accumulating Memories

The last couple of weeks have been filled with phenomenal experiences that leave me with wonderful memories. In fact, I might go so far as to say that the memories that remain are far better than the experiences themselves. That might sound odd, but it is a sentiment that seems to ring more true with each passing year. I am a long time believer in living in the moment and enjoying the journey. But as time goes on, I believe more and more that the experience is just as much about accumulating memories as it is enjoying the moment.

Within the past month I have been able to experience some things that I may never again have the opportunity to. In fact, I find myself creating experiences in a continual quest to accumulate memories wherever I can.

- I may not have wanted to go parasailing with my son (not a big fan of heights), but I cherish the memory that is him floating carelessly through the air as he tries to get me to relax

- Staying up all night with the Chiefs during their "Night Of" tradition may not have been the optimal way to spend my time during this month's reunion with my family, but the visuals I now have of the proudest fraternity alive today help me to better understand a brotherhood of which I will never truly be a part

- Standing up for four hours (and driving six hours to get there and back in the same day) to watch a premier college sporting event in person may not have been as comfortable as the view from my couch, but the memories that came with experiencing that with my parents will bring me smiles for years

- Hearing the pitter patter that comes with my son making a midnight visit to our bed may not make for a restful night, but it's a sound I know I will come to miss in time

- Life at the Naval Academy was not nearly as fun as other college experiences, but it wasn't the fun that kept me there

Time flies and with it so goes the opportunity to experience many of the things that our current life situation permits. Make no mistake that I firmly believe that we should all live in the moment, but at the same time we must do so with the end in mind. Are we making it a point to fill our memory bank with the things that will truly make us smile down the road? Are we so caught up in our stresses (perceived or otherwise) that we fail to help others to accumulate memories of their own? When it comes down to it, memories will bring us far more joy than any possessions and the memories will be with us far longer than the actual experience. Maybe Kevin Arnold (Wonder Years) said it best...

"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."

With each passing day, so passes an opportunity. And as those of us in the military experience with each deployment and change of duty station, so goes our time with people we have come to love. Here's to hoping that we choose to create experiences and accumulate as many meaningful memories as we can, while we can.

I must admit that though I have been making living in such a way a priority, the true inspiration comes from my brother. Some talk of new adventures, he takes them; some witness others do interesting things from the sidelines, he does them and is often at the center of the action; some wait for certain criteria to be met (i.e. monetary, health or familial milestone) before truly living life, he lives.

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