I have a birthday coming up this month. I’ve never been one to make a big deal out of my birthday, but I do like to do something special to celebrate. When it comes to presents, I tend to prefer experiences and adventures over physical stuff. Possessions are, for the most part, tools. When I ask for stuff it’s either something I need or something I’d like but I wouldn’t pay for myself.
This past week I reflected back on my best birthday present ever. It was the Saturday before I turned fifteen. I had just gotten home from gymnastics practice. My usual Saturday afternoon routine was to do my homework. On that day, my parents had other plans.
Mom: Go put on jeans and a t-shirt.
Mom: Just do it.
It was a sunny California day and too hot for pants. But I humored her and got changed.
Mom: Get in the car.
Mom: Just do it.
So now I was uncomfortably dressed and being kidnapped. As we drove out of town, I was severely confused about what was going on. I was very confused when we arrived at our little local airport. We went into the airport’s main office and Mom went into the back office, leaving Dad and me in the lobby.
Me: What are we doing here? Am I going skydiving?
Dad: No! Your mother bought you a flying lesson.
I spent the next hour learning the basics of flying a Cessna airplane. It was an incredible feeling to have the controls in my hands. I’ve had other unique adventures including bungee jumping, flying a helicopter, white water rafting, shooting M-16s, taking road trips, hot air ballooning, and skydiving. Some of the big adventures on my lifetime to-do list are going to Easter Island, doing a handstand on Antarctica, and completing the coast-to-coast hike across England.
From all my adventures, I’ve learned that having possessions is nice, but the things that really matter are my experiences and the connections I have with other people. I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.