Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Experience Collection Project

This blog has been on my mind for awhile.  Post have been writing themselves in my brain as I wander the streets of London, or sit on a train to Amsterdam simultaneously drinking wine and coffee (for no other reason than "I can").

But I've never put pen to paper, so to speak, about how I've been feeling lately about a life full of experiences.  So, now I am.

             The Genesis of The Experience Collection Project

Sometime in 2009, I read that researchers had discovered what the wisest among us already knew, that experiences are far more valuable than possessions.  That it truly is more extraordinary to smell a rose than to hurry by it on your way to purchase 'things'.  'Things' have a way of filling our lives. New toys, new furniture, new clothes, new shoes...these researchers found that they give us an instantaneous high which quickly dissipates and then we are left trying to fill the void that is left by the high, and so we buy more.

We consume to fill up something -- some void left in our lives. If we aren't really being present and paying attention to what's missing, we fill the void with that which we don't really need, and if we're being truly honest at our core, probably don't want.

As we grow older, and our peers buy more, we often try and keep up.  They buy big houses, we buy big houses.  They buy furniture to fill those big houses and we follow suit.  We get bigger tvs, bigger cars, and we buy "big lives"...but eventually we get old and we have to sell it, or donate it, or, God forbid, leave it for our kids to deal with. 

Think about all the 'stuff' you have...

...and now think of your favorite/funniest/craziest memories.

Like when you and your best friend did the walk of shame home from a night of drunken debauchery.

Or your that moment you had *that* kiss...when everything tingled around you.  Maybe it was 2 am, and you were sitting on a wall outside a bar.  You could smell the jasmine.  You were a little bit intoxicated...

Or sitting on hot sand, digging your toes in until you reach the cool wet part, and your eyes were closed, and you could hear the seagulls over the waves washing up almost reaching your towel.

What about meeting your baby for the first time? Or seeing Mt. Kilamanjaro? Or running through the Brandenburg gate on Christmas Eve? 

None of those memories involved going to a store and buying something (other than booze, which is the ultimate experience-maker -- can I hear an "Amen Sister Sarah!!").

I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of family around who has lived well into their nineties and beyond.  Rarely have I heard them talk about their possessions -- other than to tell the story around something, like a piece of art found on the back streets of Portugal after jumping in a cab and yelling out the only Portuguese word they knew. Or a rug bought after a camel ride in the deserts around Tehran.  These possessions are mementos of experiences rather than the Crate and Barrel catalog page 6 ottoman.  (Note: I'm not saying we don't need couches to sit on, dining rooms to eat in, I'm talking about the excess and extravagance of which we're all guilty...)

I'm 35 now, and I confess, younger people than me have figured this out.  I've only been on this train for a couple of years -- and I'm just now truly 'getting it'.  You'd think I might have caught on sooner, given how many of my friends have 'evolved' to this way of thinking...but I've always been a bit of a late bloomer (and, if I'm honest, a procrastinator as well).

      Now,  Back to the blog...

So, here's how this goes. This blog is three things.

1) It's a place for me to collect my own experiences: good, bad, apathetic.  For me to remind myself that experiences are what matter -- because the human experience is why we're here. Sometimes I get caught up in the frenzy of 'stuff' and I want this blog to remind me that it's just not about that. Right now it's the holiday season, and the temptation is, of course, to buy buy buy.  This year, instead, my husband (henceforth known as the The Canadian) and I took a trip: Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava, and Vienna.  This trip had been on our minds for awhile and what better way to experience the holidays than to see how other countries celebrate the season.  Sure, we could buy a lot of gifts, but in retrospect, there are very few gifts I actually *really* remember getting for Christmas.  But likely, I'll never forget the trip we took at Christmas in 2011.

2) It's a place for your experiences.  I love hearing other people's stories.  I really do.  Sometimes, just before I fall asleep I ask the Canadian to tell me a story.  I guess I've always loved other people's experiences even when I was a kid, always begging for people to tell me stories.  It's why I obsessively read books and blogs.  So, when you comment on posts, I'll use your comments in some of my posts.  If you tell me a good story, I'll share it.  I want to read your stories, your experiences.  This is the Experience Collection Project, and it doesn't just mean my own. And of course, there will be guest bloggers...(lots of them. Stay tuned.)

3) It's a place for finding other experience collections.  There are a lot of blogs, news pieces, etc, about other people's experiences and when I find them, I'll share them.  Maybe this blog doesn't do it for you but you find another one that does.  I love that.  If this blog is the conduit to you finding inspiring experiences then all the better.

So that's the long explanation.  The short one is, Carpe Diem, bitches!!!

Today, taking the path less traveled,


  1. Get on it! LOVE this and could not agree more with your assessment of "things" vs. "life". I've been on the same train for the last three years and life has never been better. Very excited to read more sistah!! xo