I remember the time when enough was enough and we didn’t need the next great thing, we didn’t buy everything new. I remember when we loved what we had, we saved and worked for the next thing and it meant so much to us. I remember when we didn’t know what credit cards were and our handwriting mattered because we actually wrote by hand.
I remember scraping the house with my dad, board by board, because that’s just what you did. I didn’t even know you could hire people for things like that.
I remember walking to school. I was never driven, never once got a ride. I remember my paper route, especially on the really cold dark mornings at 4 AM. I remember occasionally my mom would wake up and come find me in her car and help me finish the route. I remember describing her arrival as Jesus coming over the horizon. I remember when we had a rotary phone and I would try to make it go faster. I remember stealing the shiny caps off of people’s tires, we’d go to the campus parking lot and steal as many as possible and then sell them at school the next day for kids to put on the tires of their bikes. I remember when going out to eat was an event, something we looked forward to. It was always about honoring something, a birthday, a success, whatever.
I remember life being so much simpler.
We had smaller lives, things mattered more, our connections were deeper.
I remember falling in love the first time, or at least what I thought was love. I don’t think we ever talked.
I remember Reagan’s Presidential campaign and specifically remember my parents paying me $1 for every Reagan sign I could steal from the neighborhood.
I remember our back alley. I think kids who grow up with an alley simply have it better. That alley was the scene of my entire childhood, bike races, tennis against the side of garages, chalk drawing on the pavement, college kids occasionally coming to fight.
I remember the night of the first Gulf War. We heard about it on the news and it felt like everyone I knew gathered in my living room to pray for peace. I remember September 11th like it was just yesterday, I remember feeling so trapped and alone. Trying to get home, stuck for days away from everything and everyone I knew, not knowing who survived, what was happening. I remember when I realized that one of our offices was totally gone, along with almost everyone in it. I remember the fighter jets in the air and the incredible silence that seemed to consume everything for days after. I remember leaving my rental car in the parking garage just in a random no park zone, just abandoning it because I didn’t know what else to do. I remember seeing my daughter after I finally made it home, she leapt into my arms and I remember falling to the ground overcome.I remember when everyone seemed to open his or her hearts, I remember when it seemed like as a nation we began to wake up. I remember when people started to forget again. I remember when I also started to forget.
I remember the first time I got a huge commission check. The anticipation and fascination of making so much money was much more significant than the reality of it. I remember being so amazed that nothing changed, no matter how much I had. I remember all the time wasted fantasizing about how it would feel and I remember when I got it that whatever you’ve got, you’ve got, and it doesn’t matter anyway.
I remember learning that to have, you have to give it away.
I remember the first time I really gave something away, I remember how honored I felt- how actually it was more a gift for me that for the receiver. I remember when money had meaning and the pursuit of it was enjoyable – and then having the recognition that the pursuit of anything is enjoyable and it’s much more rewarding measuring how many lives you impact vs. how much you deposit.
I remember the first time I saw a redwood tree. I remember the incredible feeling of the ground, so forgiving to the weight of my body, so soft and protective—it felt like I was being carried. The ground in a redwood forest is the softest ground on earth. I remember the freshness of the air and the feeling of such insignificance. I remember the silence, the reverence, the strength I felt- in fact, it’s been with me ever since.
I remember winding along the coast for the first time, seeing the ocean and walking on the beach. I remember getting stopped for going a hundred miles an hour with the windows down and music blasting and the blue sky and the feeling of such wild freedom.
Remembering, being grateful for it all, this is the simplest way I’ve ever known to be happy.