Tuesday, July 27, 2010
They say that money can’t buy happiness; they also say that you can’t take it with you when you go. I have no idea who “they” are, but I suspect that they are people with lots of money and “toys”.
While I would simply love to have the chance to prove that money may not buy happiness, but it can put a smile on your face, something happened to me today that sort of proved that “Stuff” really isn’t as important and we may think it is.
One of my kids showed up today with an old Gameboy SP. It was just sitting on the piano. I actually had to stare at it for a min. Before it registered for me what it even was. The Gameboy SP, back when it came out, was the ultimate in hand held gaming. Clear screen, back lit, and folded neatly in your pocket. Man I wanted one so much, that I would have sold a body part to get it. Not something useless like a pinkey toe either... a good part. I remember trying to convince my kids that they wanted one for Christmas, so that I would have an excuse to buy one, then I could borrow it(Dad fail)... Those were days before it occurred to me that I could have just bought one for myself. Every time I saw an 11 year old playing Zelda on their SP, it just made it worse.
Today though, I was holding this relic in my hands wondering what the big deal was.
When I was younger, and cameras came with film. I wanted a 35 mm camera so badly that I could taste it.. A cool Nikon. I had visions of becoming a photographer. It was a great dream, I never got the camera. Today though I have this little Hp digital, with a memory card big enough to take portraits of every human being in North America(well almost)...It’s pretty simple by today’s standards, but it takes nice pictures and it’s fun to use. That old Nikon that I wanted? Just another relic in life. How fleeting “Stuff” is. Yet we strive for it, wish for it.. Work for more stuff, bigger houses and nicer toys.
I have been on both sides of that scene. My home is rather humble to look at. It used to have leather furniture, Solid wood tables, a King size bed that cost well into the four digits to buy(and it really was super comfy). A few years and a divorce later.. It’s all old beat up and used. My couch and chair came from a nice family who were getting rid of it, my King size bed has been replaced by a smaller but still comfy bed that someone else was getting rid of. In fact pretty much everything that I own now was given to me by kind people who no longer needed it. My computer was new when I bought it, and my boys have both purchased their own. To look at the place though, you would not be impressed. My “Stuff” is all old.
What does that mean to me though? Well there is an old chair that one of my boys claims as his own. If he is in the house, he’s there. He will fall asleep in it before wondering to his room around 5 am to finish off the night in there. The old couch belongs to my other son. He sets his laptop on the old glass and wood, straight from the 70’s coffee table and pretty much lives there when he’s awake. The recliner? Well my daughter lays claim to that when she comes over. My walls have no expensive art pieces. They do have framed works of Art from all 3 of my children. The carpet has strips torn out of it, where our Puppy pulled them out when she was younger. She did wreck the rug, but looked so cute doing it, that we pretty much just laugh when we talk about it. My smaller bed really doesn’t matter that much... the big dog would kick me out of it even if it were super duper king size.. Oh and I can’t forget my van.. old but running, and so many memories. I have been told that a single guy just can’t look cool in a Mini Van, that may be true... But it’s the van I took the kids to the beach in, or to rented cottages.... fishing and on trips, if I were a millionaire tomorrow I’d probably just keep driving it.
Looking at that old gameboy, just put everything into perspective for me. No you can’t take it with you when you go. But I believe that you take your memories, and your experiences with you. My home may be humble to look at, but I guess I don’t really see the furniture. I see the memories of the past and the ones that are being made now. I hear music, jokes and laughter, the groans and cheers of 3 way internet gaming or, the sound of crazy dogs that just have to play “Chase” at 4am. Honestly when I first was given my “new’ stuff, I was grateful but I also looked forward to the day when I could get nicer stuff, but you know, I've never had a kid fall asleep on the leather. It was beautiful to look at but it was never where people “Hung Out”. It held no memories... I’ll keep my old beat up stuff, and not freak out when the dogs jump on it, or someone spills their Pepsi on it. When the house is empty, I still see one boy on his chair, the other one on the couch and my beautiful daughter in the recliner.
It's also a visual reminder of the kindness of people, who really had no reason to show such generosity towards me. It is truly humbling.
Sure sometimes I want toys, better stuff, and cooler things... It’s part of the human experience I guess.... But when I walk in my door and see what I see, I just have to smile and be grateful for how blessed I truly am.
If no one plays with the “SP”, I think that I will put it somewhere where it can be seen.. as a reminder of what’s important.
Oh and by the way... I make that van look cooler than a snow cone in January :-P