Nowadays everything costs money. More than it cost yesterday. Tomorrow it will probably be more expensive. Many, many things that we need for our very survival just eat away at our pockets. Much we spend our money on, we can’t hold on to, it just seems to disappear into thin air: food, insurance, petrol. Other things wear out, waste away or lose value rapidly like electronics, cars and clothes. We work so very, very hard to earn the money on which we and our families survive but most of what we spend it on, let’s face it, makes us poorer.
But I do believe there are still some things that we can spend our precious pennies on, that really make us richer, that can never be taken or fade away. These will always be with us. Here are the three things I believe we should prioritize to make ourselves and our children forever richer.
Education doesn’t make you happy. Nor does freedom. We don’t become happy just because we’re free – if we are. Or because we’ve been educated – if we have.
But because education may be the means by which we realize we are happy.
It opens our eyes, our ears, tells us where delights are lurking, convinces us that there is only one freedom of any importance whatsoever, that of the mind, and gives us the assurance – the confidence – to walk the path our mind, our educated mind, offers. – Irish Murdoch
If we are able to offer our children good, private or government, education – through organizations and educators who instill a love of learning, curiosity and confidence – we do not only open opportunities to them in the future market place, but we also develop their capacities through which to appreciate and celebrate the world. A stimulated, critical and creative mind can imagine possibilities otherwise not available. It has a richer experience and may appreciate beauty and wonder in even the smallest moments.
As the above quote says education itself does not necessarily make one happy but may provide the tools through which to imagine and actualize a phenomenally richer life.
I was set alight by by these words years ago, as a University student, when I saw the film, Iris. See Dame Judi Dench’s portrayal of Dame Iris Murdoch’s words below. Well worth the inspiration:
I have had the incredible good fortune to take myself to many corners of my country and my world. And what a privilege that has been! I can never un-see the things I have seen, un-hear the sounds and languages I heard, un-taste the food I have tasted or un-experience the cultures I experienced.
I remember when I booked my trip to New York city, I had to decide between replacing my computer and grabbing the opportunity to see this epic city. I was much younger, I had a friend there for a short window of time, there was a sofa to sleep on, an affordable flight… It was not a luxury holiday… but I walked around Times Square absorbing every vibration of the mad, magical New York city as a young adult. Maybe the “everything is possible” energy of this one of a kind world city, injected a bit of its spirit into me. As did so many other places in the world. I imagine the laptop I didn’t buy then, would have been virus infected, lost or broken by now. Is it fair to predict the same about many excessive toys?
Travel does cost money. Even local trips are expensive. This is undeniable. But I would urge and argue that every cent spent on wanderlust is worth it. See it as an investment and the best interests you will ever earn will be in the ever lasting memories. Is there possibly a better gift you can give your children?
I remember my first visit to the Theatre, the first time I saw an elephant in the Kruger National Park, my first time on top of Table Mountain. I did all these things as a young child. I am so happy that no one stuck me in front of the television or (like contemporary kidz) behind a Ipod or a Playstation. I do not come from a wealthy family by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a extended family who believed in the value of enriching my life with as many experiences as they could afford and I owe them forever thanks.
There are so many wonderful things that we can expose our kidz and ourselves to nowadays and it is possible for it to cost virtually nothing. A walk in the park. A drive to the beach, a river or a dam close by – swimming in these! Seeing the sun rise or set. Star and moon gazing. A scenic drive. Spending time with family or friends. It takes a bit of time and some effort but endless experiences are freely available to enrich our and our children’s lives. It is case of simply prioritizing it.
For a the price of some toys or simple electronics, you could opt for family theatre tickets – imagined worlds coming to life in real time – film could never substitute. Get away from the electronics and the screens. Opt for a visit to the zoo, a live sports match, a puppet show, a game drive, visit a bird-, monkey -, lion-, butterfly-, sanctuary or a museum. So much to experience together. Memories made to treasure forever!