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Waste Not: Life is made up of moments, not things

November 15th, 2015 | 2 comments

Here at Zaptitude HQ we are somewhat obsessed with the idea that our tendency to waste things – food, water, basically everything – is at the heart of our tendency to waste money. And so with that in mind, the ‘Waste Not’ column of blog posts will be focusing on small actions we can take to reduce the waste in our lives.

The impact of experiences rather than tangible gifts was highlighted for me last year when I took my niece to see the musical Wicked. This was a birthday gift, and I had built it up as something we were doing – just the two of us. No siblings or parents in tow, just us.

I did this out of instinct as I remember very clearly how magical similar experiences were to me when I was a child. So I sent her a special invitation, we planned how we would get there and back, we chatted about our munchie selection all the way in the car, and we debated the pros and cons of getting to our seats super early versus last minute arrival. (My vote lost unfortunately – it seems ‘numb bum’ does not rate as a consideration for those still in their youth.)

As we were heading in to the show, she asked if we could buy a programme. Now, we all know that those things are incredibly expensive and full of ads, right? As I am coming up with a way to explain that to her she says ‘Because I want to be able to go back and remember everything again.’

Not one to be able to debate against such logic, we grabbed a program and headed in. Before the show had even started there were wonders to behold. Groups of older ladies with drinks that glowed in the dark, a theatrical set so wondrous that even with the curtains closed it was a sight to behold and a theatre with a ceiling that every child wished they had in their bedroom – a gorgeous night sky filled with twinkling stars.

Wicked the MusicalAnd then the show began. For those of you that haven’t seen Wicked, I would encourage you to take any girl you know under the age of about 16. This is a tale of fitting in versus standing out, of being yourself, standing up for those less fortunate than ourselves, and not falling for propaganda. And aside from all of that, it is a fabulous musical and loads of fun.

My niece and I had lots of laugh out loud moments, in fact so much so that at one very ridiculous and intentionally hysterical section the ladies in front of us turned around to smile at how hard the two of us were laughing.

We chatted about all the lessons from the show on the way home, we debated who were the baddies versus the goodies, how we wish the story had ended and whether it would really be so bad being green (it makes sense if you’ve seen it 😉 ).

And that is when you begin to see the truth underneath her comment:

‘Because I want to be able to go back and remember everything again.

Of course, she wanted the program to be able to relive the story, the great characters, the wonderful costumes. However in doing that, she would be able to relive that experience, the laughter, the surprises, and the time we spent together.

And that is the fundamental difference between the gift of an experience versus a ‘thing’. Experiences are the core of what our memories are made up of, whereas a ‘thing’ is often forgotten almost as soon as the wrapping paper is off. 

As a nice upside, experiences very rarely involve holding on to a whole of of clutter, and so don’t add to the general level of waste we see on a day to day basis. Even as adults, if we look at our own lives during the holiday season, how many times do we end up with a pile of thoughtful things that you neither wanted or needed. So, therefore before buying a gift this Christmas whether it be for a kid, or a kid at heart, how about giving the gift of a memory rather than one that just adds to our collection of stuff?

Are you up to the challenge?
Peita D.

p.s. If you are keen to here about more ways to reduce the waste in all our lives, then check out my book – Finance Action Hero.

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2 people have commented
  1. I love this! What an awesome gift for her! My brother took me and our parents to Wicked years ago for our Christmas present and it was amazing. He knew we all would enjoy the show and it was so much better than some sweater or gadget. We are really hoping our families will frequently choose to give experiences rather than things to our kids. We’ll see; most are pretty set on buying toys so far…

    • Thanks Kate – how much better would life be if we were all embarking on great experiences that someone had purchased for us 🙂

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