Collect experiences, not things

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At the end of last year, I had set about to plan for 2 major travels to take place this year. The first was to fulfill a childhood promise I made with my best friend when we were 12. And the second, was an opportunity that came out of the blue which oddly enough corresponds to a ‘wanting’ that I have been having for a while now.

When we were 12, Z and I made a promise to travel to Cape Cod, South Africa when we both turn 24. Little did we know then, at 24 you are quite unlikely to make the kind of money that will allow you such extravagant trips halfway across the world.

In March this year, instead of South Africa, she and I will make our way to Italy, spending about 8 days in 5 cities across Italy and celebrating my birthday in Capri, one of the prettiest places I have seen on photos before.

I guess over time, our preferences have since changed and the idea of Italy seems more tempting than South Africa. We will be staying in 4 different hotels, renting a car and driving in Florence for one of those days, and travelling via train and public transportation for the rest of the days. Since we confirmed this trip and bought our tickets, there has been one too many times when either of us can be heard sighing “let’s fast forward to March already”.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paulo Coehlo – The Alchemist

A few weeks after our Italy trip, I will be making my way to an island in Thailand to complete a 200-hour yoga teaching certification. For 6 days each week over the course of one month, I will have a set schedule, eat organic locally grown food, practicing and refining my asanas, learning the ropes of teaching and surrounding myself with great teachers and hopefully great like-minded people too.

What has surprised me the most in going about to plan for this second trip was the speed in obtaining the necessary approval. Getting extended time off at work, especially for an entire month is not something you get everyday, but the speed at which I obtained my approval and the smooth progress into finally getting the green lights to place my deposit for the course made me believe more than ever that Paulo Coehlo really knew a thing or two about the universe when he wrote the above quote in his bestselling book.

Collectively, both of these plans have set me back in the monetary department. As I will be fully funding for both of these trips, it is hard not to think about the amount of money that I will be ‘parting’ with in the first half of the year. And to be honest, it has not been particularly easy to revise your normal monthly budget to accommodate these changes and sacrificing those ‘wants’ that parade themselves as ‘needs’ like trying to quiet the voice in your head that goes “but I NEED new clothes for work, and MNG is on sale!” or passing off the next too-good-to-be-true deal on Groupon.

Every time one of these moments pop up, or when Z and I are planning out our Italy trip and realise some of the expenses are just ridicolous, I keep reminding myself that the better way to living is to collect experiences, not things. Experiences are priceless. It is yours and no one else’s. No one else can feel, think and see the same place as you do. And no one else can rob you of the experiences you have had in your life. Travelling is one of the ways to collect experiences, but it is by no means THE only way to do so. But things, such as clothes, and cars and other tangible items are battered over time. They need fixing, and the colour will fade. Eventually all of these things will need to be replaced. But experiences – you carry them to the very last day of your life.

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