I remember when I first got my walkman. It was around the time when portable cd players were the fad, early 90s. Yep. I was just a tad behind with the tech culture. The truth was I didn’t beg my parents for it. I listened to music in whatever way I could. However, since they knew I was very much into music, they got it for me nonetheless. I absolutely adored my walkman like no other. After school, I scouted for discount cassette tapes at the local music stores. At night, I lightly slept with a small stereo as a pillow just so when I heard that one particular song air on the radio, I pressed the record and play button together to vandalize that brown strip of blankness in the cassette tape. I vaguely remember buying Green Day’s Dookie album. I played that tape on repeat like there were no other types of music out there. It was awesome. I carried my tiny walkman with pride like it was 1985.
I had a wonderful childhood. Our lives, my siblings’ and mine, were simple yet slightly-above-average. Growing up, we were taught not to put value on material things. We
played outdoors, rain or shine. We ran barefoot while being chased by rabid street dogs of all kinds. We explored our suburban neighborhoods and played in our city backyards. Our parents taught us the value of education early on and how it is the one true gift they could ever give us. We exploited our opportunities for a great education and went overboard with extra-curriculars. We spent the most memorable times with the best friends and family anyone could ever hope for. We were blessed. Truly. Our parents bought us many nice things, but we knew to take care of them diligently. We didn’t get twenty gifts during Christmas time or new clothes at the beginning of the school year. We rarely went to shopping malls to actually shop. Back then, the malls were just there for the free air conditioning that not a lot of people had in their homes. Including us. We had money. But not the type to spend on “stuff.”
I did buy “stuff” as a kid. How can you not? Most of my allowance money were spent on paper dolls and gum and and soda in a bag. Endless food trips. Jeepney rides to the “rich” mall. Change for use on arcade machines. Street fighter. Mortal Kombat. Pacman. Filipino street foods. Oh yeah. I spent money on ridiculous things. The point is I didn’t accumulate as much “junk” or “toys” or “gadgets” as most kids do nowada
ys. Back then, we spent our money on what to do. We bought experiences.
Our less-than-perfect-yet-still-great parents bought us the best experiences of our lives by buying us plane tickets to travel to different places. No one can put a price on first-hand cultural immersion. It is the best type of learning there is. Not that there’s anything wrong with buying gadgets and toys. Everything has its place and purpose in our growth and our lives. But a gadget can’t measure up to an interactive experience or awesomely thrilling memories. We all have a tendency now to have our hands occupied by some type of device; I think we’re losing our abilities to look people dead straight into their eyes just as much as we’re losing our physical abilities to experience sensational memories to their panoramic fullest. We rather crop everything into 1080P to be viewed and reviewed by others. I think it’s the latest fad in excessive self-affirmation. But that’s something else entirely. A different post, I suppose.
Go do something. Spend your money on an experience and live to talk about it. Whatever “toy” you’re buying next might cost just as much as a drive-in movie or a pass to see the King Tut collection at the local museum. Let the kids exercise their whole bodies in the jungle gym and not just their fingers. Yes, parents should do the same. Go spend money on some snorkeling gear or a paddle board or a trip to see The Lion King live on Broadway. Play BINGO! Go to the planetarium. So many exciting adventures to experience. If you’re going to pay for it, it better last a lifetime.
Buy an experience. Make memories. Should I say it again? 🙂