2012.12.05 I won't be swimming in the Sea of Regret

Written by David Green.

Got any column ideas for me? I asked David when he kissed me goodnight at 1 a.m. Monday night.

“Use an old one,” he advised as he walked down the hall.

“Go to bed,” he added. “That would be my idea,” he said as he headed up the stairs.

I don’t always follow my husband’s advice, but we’re heading to Miami to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with all our kids and grandkids and I’ve got a lot to do to get ready. So, here’s a column from Feb. 18, 2009. The message is even appropriate for this time of year.

– Colleen 

 By COLLEEN LEDDY

There’s nothing like being vindicated even if you’re vindicated by your own self. I speak of my guilt in planning trips on the cusp of the next Great Depression, even though I truly am happy to have spent the money on the experiences. There is always that twinge of guilt, however, that hangs like a little black cloud ready to rain on my parade of happiness.

But a short segment on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation Science Friday made me think, Begone guilt! Regret no more!

I was dashing between schools Friday when I heard snatches of the Research News portion of the program. Host Ira Flatow was interviewing a psychologist about his study which concluded people felt happier when they spent their money on experiences rather than things. I’m a big spender of kooky things, but still, I thought, “My sentiments exactly.” 

Ira asked if that could be extrapolated to buying gifts, such as for Valentine’s Day and the psychologist, Ryan Howell from San Francisco State University, said yes.

So, instead of buying that red teddy bear with an “I Love You” balloon attached, you should have bought your sweetheart tickets to a concert. Instead of buying jewelry, you should have booked a reservation at a new and different  restaurant. 

Luckily, David happened to listen to the same program so when I suggested we eat out Friday night, twisting his arm wasn’t too hard.

David is rarely eager to embark on any endeavor that requires spending money. I have long since decided not to let that stop me. Whether it’s buying Zingerman’s brownies or spending 10 bucks for the dinky little raft ride at Cumberland Falls State Park, I am all about the experience.

He’s happy not spending the money and I’m happy having the experience. I suspect he’s a little less happy about me spending the money, but the threat of a wedgie usually ends the under-his-breath mumbling and grumbling.

I listened to the podcast of the show later and was bolstered by further conclusions of the study which found that people who spent their money on experiences had an increased sense of vitality and vigor. They also had a sense of being connected with their social world and engaged in less social comparison. 

For example, you might buy a pair of shoes and think they’re nice until you see your friend’s shoes and think they’re nicer. When you spend money on experiences, you’re less likely to engage in that sort of activity and less likely to have buyer’s remorse. You’re, as the title of the show says, Buying into Life Instead of Things.

Of course, the study only included 154 participants, hardly enough to be conclusive. But, you know how it is, take your vindication and validation where you can get it.

And when you hear about a study that only confirms what you’ve been living, it’s easy to think of lots of examples of how happy the experiences made you. 

Snorkeling in the Bahamas tops my list. What a time that was. Swimming in the pool built into the side of a cliff at Arcosanti in Arizona—I can still transport myself to that budding experimental town where Paolo Soleri blends architecture with ecology.

A day trip on a boat from Homer, Alaska, to see a rookery and explore an island town. Skiing at Shanty Creek on Christmas Day and swimming at night in the heated outdoor pool while snowflakes fell. 

The amazing pool at the hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I removed my sarong only to discover I was wearing my underpants instead of my bathing suit bottom.

Hmm, most of these memories involve water...heck, they all do. I wonder if that is significant.

Maybe it means you won’t find me floating in the sea of regret.

  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
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    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
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    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
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    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
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    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
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    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.
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