Tuesday, January 16, 2018
What to value above all else
A friend posted the above pic on Facebook. It rings true, doesn't it? How many times have you had similar conversations with people? MANY, I bet. Success, it feels at times, is measured by what we have, not how we feel.
I've always known that being happy is worth far more than owning stuff. My parents taught me this. They were the happiest couple I know, and they had what they needed, nothing more. I don't remember growing up wanting for anything, and yet our lifestyle back then was simple. My Dad worked with his hands in various jobs, driving cranes mostly. Mum stayed home with us. Our house had two bedrooms and one bathroom. Holidays were spent driving to various locations in Western Australia with our caravan in tow.
I had the BEST childhood.
Back in late October last year I attended my 30 Year High School Reunion. Funnily enough, I had never been to a school reunion before then. I had no interest. I figured everyone I wanted to see from my high school days, I saw, and I imagined reunions to be where people would do their best comparison checking. Who has the best job? Who has the best house? Who was the most 'successful'?
However during a trip back to Perth at the end of 2016, I asked my friend, Penny, if she was going to organise our 30th, seeing that she'd coordinated all the previous reunions? She said, 'If you promise to come, Jode, I'll organise one.' I bit the bullet and promised her I would.
I'm not sure why exactly I changed my mind about attending a reunion, I just did. Perhaps it had something to do with my parents' deaths in recent years? I've spent a lot of time since Dad died in 2013 thinking about my childhood and earlier years. I guess that's a pretty standard thing to do. I felt my time with the few old high school friends I caught up regularly with had changed over the years. We had become more and more about just having fun and relishing in each other's company. Not that we hadn't had fun before, it just felt as though we cherished our old friendships more, you know?
So I booked my ticket and I flew to Perth for the reunion. I remember saying to Mr A before I left, 'It'll probably be all over by 10pm.'
WRONG. I can't tell you how good the night was! Someone said it was midnight, and I was practically like Elaine in Seinfeld ... 'GET. OUT!' Much to the dismay of the hotel staff, we finished up well after 1am.
I don't recall a single conversation about who had what job and how many kids everyone had. Well, there was maybe a tiny bit of that, but essentially we just enjoyed each other's company. Everyone seemed to be genuinely concerned about how people were doing. In fact, Penny said it was the highest attended reunion of them all to date. Why? Because I think we've all gone past valuing stuff and now we value happiness, and we want to spend time with people who made/make us happy. (We were lucky - we had a pretty good cohort in '87!)
The older you get, the more you realise that happiness is far more important than what car you drive or what clothes you wear. I doubt anyone is on their death bed saying, 'Gee, I really wish I'd bought that Gucci t-shirt I always wanted.'