“The best things in life are not things.”
A while back, when I saw this on a bumper sticker on the car in front of me, I sat thinking to myself, “Yes!” These words really sum up my feelings about life and about stuff. Sure, some of our stuff is great. I love this laptop that I have been writing merrily away on for the last year or so. I love some of my clothes (especially my cardigans and my boots!) and I do love the convenience of my smart phone. However, these things make my life convenient and comfortable. They are not the things that make me happy.
Today, I was reminded of this fact when I went out with two good friends and their kids for a hike in Griffith Park. The kids – our son Theo, Samuel and Cortez – have been classmates and friends since kindergarten, and I have called their parents, Mi Sook and Eric my friends since then too. We have shared almost 6 years of parenting together, most of our kids’ lives. Soon we will send our children off to the next level of school, where life will be slightly more challenging and slightly less innocent for them.
This afternoon, our hike was cut short when the kids discovered a concrete area covered in graffiti near the path and ran off in a state of joyful abandon. Watching our three 10-year olds squealing and giggling with glee as they slid together down a colorful concrete slope, I was overcome with the bittersweet knowledge that such playful moments together are numbered now. I think we all felt this. No longer caring too much about the hike and not worrying about them wearing holes in their pants and socks, we stood together in the afternoon sunshine laughing with our kids as they slid down the slopes, ran back up and then slid down again, and again and again. Such moments are the best things.
At home a couple of hours later, I made one last sweep through the house so I could give away as much as possible on the penultimate day of my project. I dug through the kitchen drawer full of phone rechargers, old cameras and cables, more CDs and then a couple more pieces of clothing and finally the two pairs of sandals I’d not been able to let go of yet – stragglers that had almost made it through the year. Cramming them all into a bag, I drove to Out of the Closet for one final donation this year, happy to be making more room in my life for my best things.