Remember: It’s About The Experience, Not Stuff

SegoviaIf you go to bing.com today (September 17th, 2015) you’ll see a lovely animation of Segovia, Spain. Bing provides a new picture or scene on its homepage each day to add a little something extra to your Internet search experience. If you don’t care to check out the scene (or are reading this after the 17th) the screen shot to the left shows you what I’m talking about.

Now I bring this up for a very specific reason. I’m not trying to lead you on an Internet scavenger hunt. Instead, this depiction is personal to me and I’d like to share a quick story.

You see Segovia and its Roman Aqueduct, the square and the Mountain View, the stone pavers; all of it is very familiar. I was once there.

I remember it clearly. It’s been eight years now, but I remember it clearly. I remember looking down the row of aqueduct arches, after summiting the stairs. I remember a group picture taken at the top. I remember walking down the winding streets. I remember the breath-taking views.

I was on a school trip, and although it’s been awhile I remember the experience.

Incidentally, there’s also one other thing that I remember – if only partially.

To get up to the square, to get to the stairs, to get to the aqueduct, to get to the view, you first have to walk up these old winding streets. So we were walking up the winding streets, past little shops and stores. We’d stop occasionally, but we had to meet at the top of the hill to catch our ride back to Madrid.

So the group makes it to the top, and we’re waiting, milling about. Suddenly, and with great urgency, I decided that there was something that had caught my eye at one of the shops. I just knew that I’d regret it if I didn’t go back and get it. So I asked my teacher to go back. She said to make it very quick (they weren’t waiting on me), and I was off. (I might have suggested that it was a bit closer than reality.)

I ran down the hill, through the winding streets perhaps half a mile away. I quickly found the shop I was looking for, went in, pointed to what I wanted and laid out my Euros. I had my prized possession in hand and I was on my way once more. Back up the hill, through the winding streets, another half mile, to return just in time for our departure. I had made it.

It’s a satisfying feeling knowing that you worked for something, went out of your way to go get it and returned triumphantly with that excellent purchase in tow. Or so I would assume.

You see here’s the thing. I remember the Roman Aqueduct. When I saw it on Bing today I instantly knew that I had been there. I remember the winding streets. I remember the views. I remember the stairs and that picture.

But for the life of me I can’t remember what I purchased that day. I can’t remember what was so important that I had to bolt off, run a mile, trade some paper and almost miss my ride. At the time it was the most important thing, but today I can’t tell you what it was or where it is. I can’t tell you anything about it, other than I went through a great deal of effort to get whatever it was.

Then it dawns on you: it’s about the experience, not the stuff. You’re probably not going to remember the knick-knack that seemed so indispensible at the time. But you are going to remember the experience. You’re going to remember running full speed through a city on siesta. You’re going to remember climbing the stairs and staring at the mountains. You’re going to remember looking down those arches and wondering how they did it so many years ago. You’re going to remember the experience.

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