Do you remember how you felt when you got your first new bike? Your first car? Or how about that new sofa, blender, outfit,_______ (fill in the blank)? Remember that giddy excitement and anticipation of driving it, wearing it, trying it out for the first time? But how long did it take for that excitement to fade? When the new car smell disappeared? When it got dirty and had to be cleaned or you saw there was a newer, fancier model available? Or you simply grew tired of it?
What is it that causes us to always be wanting the next best or newer thing? We’re like a dog chasing its tail and the results are about the same. We get so caught up in dreaming about the “what ifs” that we miss the perfect parts of “now”. I think, as we get older, this incessant need for the high we feel when we get something new diminishes as we come to realize what is truly valuable.
Whether it’s our possessions or the people in our life, the “shine” does wear off but when we learn to be grateful for all of the less obvious parts that make up those things it changes how we look at everything. For example, I was recently walking to the corner store near our house to pick up a few things. Normally, because I’m “so busy” (eye roll here) I would have driven but it was a gorgeous Spring day and I needed some fresh air. As I started walking I realized the wind was blowing a bit harder than I’d thought and it was chilly. I almost turned around and went back to get the car when a little voice inside said, “You know, the day is coming when you may not be able to walk with the ease you have now.” Whoa. In that moment I felt such a renewed sense of gratitude for my legs and the fact that I have the ability to walk to the corner store that I smiled and picked up my pace. And I also realized that when I applied that same gratitude test to other parts of my life it became a game-changer for my attitude.
The home we live in – it shelters us, is cozy and filled with things that hold meaning for us. It provides a calm refuge when life gets crazy. I don’t need a big house to be happy – I only need a “home”.
The clothes I wear may not be the most expensive or stylish but they are the least relevant thing about me. They don’t define me or make me smarter, kinder or better than anyone else. They’re comfortable and serve their purpose. I’ve recently purged my closets and can’t believe how much lighter I feel when I open those doors and see space between the hangers and items that truly mean something to me.
These are only a couple of examples but I think it can also apply to the people in our lives. Our spouse, children, and our friends…..we so easily take them for granted, wanting them to listen more; be more fun (or less exuberant!); be more understanding or supportive of us. Why is it so easy for us to see what we don’t like and miss all the perfect things about them that are right in front of us? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to appreciate and verbalize all of the amazing things about them? How smart they are or helpful or accommodating or funny or kind or someone you can always count on?
I kind of like this “getting older” thing. As my body (and mind) slows down it seems like I have more time to ponder these pearls of wisdom that pop up for me. And, even as I admit that the shine has most definitely worn off of this gal I like to think that I’ve maybe become more valuable – even with a bit of wear.
So be grateful for the imperfections, embrace the history of a shared life, appreciate the memories being made. Stop pursuing perfection and chasing the next new thing because it will only be new for a minute and the shine will fade. Short-term gratification is no match for enduring value.
I may not have much shine left but my imperfections have created a beautiful patina that is a testament to the unique story that makes up who I am.
.And there’s value in that.
Actually, it’s priceless.