GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ABOUT LIFE: An important lesson for me over my years has been realizing that purchases only give pleasure for a short time.
When I was quite young with a paper-route income, I became a member of a record club. As a bonus I received five free records, but I then had to buy five more in the course of a year. I carefully chose my five records and put the application in an envelope. Then I waited over ten years (although the calendar said it was only three weeks) for my records to arrive. I carefully opened them and placed the first one on the turntable. It was Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra playing instrumental versions of popular songs. The violins seemed to float out of the speakers and surround me. This was during the pioneering days when stereo was first cut into the grooves of records sending parts of the music to different areas of the room. It was amazing. I played the other records with the same amount of attention and pleasure.
Then I noticed in a very short amount of time I was tired of those records. The fact that I had anticipated them like a birthday or Christmas didn’t seem to matter anymore. They had no more power to give me pleasure. Sure, I enjoyed listening to them over and over, but it was nothing like the thrill of first touching and then playing them. The thrill was gone.
Later there were other eagerly awaited purchases: my first bike, my first car, my first computer with Windows Operating System, my first laptop. The list is long of things I thought would give me unending pleasure, but they did not. One by one each acquisition left me feeling nothing for them.
There have been other pleasures I have tasted and found did not have the power to keep me lifted into a cloud of ecstasy as I’d imagined. Food didn’t do it. Sex didn’t do it either. At their best, each pleasure had a short life. Over the course of my life I have learned again and again that I cannot find long-lasting pleasure in things.
I can however experience lengthy periods of happiness while developing quality relationships with people I care about. Nineteen years ago, my grand daughter came into this world and I learned my greatest satisfaction came while spending time with her. This joy overflowed the time I spent with her as I looked forward to spending more time with her and smiled while remembering the time I had spent with her. I discovered feelings of contentment as I talked to distant relatives about our family’s history, where we came from and what has happened to us along the way, where we lived, what kind of work we did. This contentment remained as I wrote up a genealogy report and shared it at a family reunion and saw the interest and appreciation in the eyes of my cousins, aunts and uncles.
I think this lesson has helped me keep my focus on people and not things. Possessions provide only spurts of pleasure while pleasant times with people bring whole seasons of happiness.