Five Profound Experiences (that Happen to be Free)

old man waiting

There’s a lot more to life than money. Even when you do concentrate on money issues, it should be with the thought of getting your finances in order so you can pursue the experiences in life that you want. Yet profound life experiences can still be enjoyed even if you have a negative balance in all of your accounts. Here are five experiences that you can enjoy without going further into the red that have the potential to change your life.

Water Works: Fortunately, even big cities often have a body of water that you can enjoy. The magic balm of water is as close as your nearest lake shore or river bank, even a plaza fountain will do (especially if there’s a delicious statue of a nude male perched in the middle). I am fortunate to live near several walking trails along rivers. No matter the season, the water calms me. And the countless little lives it supports are touching to observe; tiny turtles, boisterous geese, splashing frogs, ducklings bobbing in their mother’s wake.

Heart To Heart: Invite someone over to talk. Not to eat. Not to watch a favorite show. Just to talk. Be intentional. Be direct. Tell them you miss them. Tell them what they mean to you. Thank them.

Someone very close to me was diagnosed with cancer recently. We got together and I took the opportunity to say the things that I had always wanted to say to them. We cried, talked and hugged until we ended up laughing at some favorite memories. It was a cleansing experience for both of us.

Visit Your Oldest Living Relative: Visit your oldest living relative (the dead ones can be a little stiff). Take them their favorite meal. Ask them questions about your family, their life, their most difficult challenges, what they miss the most about the old days. Ask them why your mother turned down the dance scholarship or how your father acted as a teenager.

I recently took a tape recorder and visited my grandmother’s brother. My grandmother passed away a year ago and had suffered from severe dementia for many years. I asked him the questions I wished I could have asked her. He told me that when they were very young, they watched their house burn down one night while their parents were in town. I never knew about that.

It was a wonderful visit. He was happy for the company and flattered I wanted to hear and record his stories. And, I was thrilled to learn new things about my grandmother’s life.

Hold a Baby: There is no purer energy than that of a child. I have to borrow babies when I need a fix. Luckily, I have several wise young people in my life who, with a look, can melt away whatever stress I may be holding onto. When my eighteen month old nephew looks at the football, then looks at me and says, “Aunt Mer, kick it!” my mind empties beneath a brilliant sky of innocence and joy. There is no other thought in the world as I dutifully kick the football for the hundredth time with enthusiasm equal to his.

Dance: Dancing is wonderfully relaxing and its great exercise. I spend all day wandering around in my brain as a writer so dancing is the perfect balance to that. Sadly, I used to fit the stereotype of the white person who couldn’t dance. When I was younger, I only danced if I was among a group of girlfriends and my rigid joints had been sufficiently lubricated with tequila. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to even try to dance otherwise. But two years ago I decided I wanted to enjoy dancing in public. I practiced alone (and with my husband when I could convince him) almost every single day for a solid year. I now enjoy salsa, merengue, good ol’ disco, and even the state dance of my home state of South Carolina called the shag.

The shag has been the most challenging of all and I’m still not particularly good at it, even after a four week class. My husband and I still have to stare each other in the eye and count out loud to stay on the beat which causes us to get distracted and tangled at times. It also gives me a bad case of the giggles.

And for those of you in England: Yes, I know what the word “shag” means to you but no, we didn’t take lessons for that nor do we need to count out loud to stay on the rhythm. However, your kind of shagging does also give me the giggles. And as for whether or not I’m particularly good at it, well, my mother reads this so you’ll just have to keep wondering about that.

Image courtesy of Giant Ginkgo

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