By Roger Dubin
“Experiences, not possessions.” I’ve been hearing that a lot lately, and I love hearing it. This is the way I live now. I no longer have to have another shirt, an extra belt or a fifth watch. I can’t possibly use all the stuff I have already. Instead I will go on another hike, or travel to someplace like Colorado or Spain.
When I visit my young cousins, nephews or nieces, I see rooms filled with toys—so many that they don’t mean anything, and the kids don’t focus on what’s in front of them. They go from toy to toy, not using their imagination as they would if they had less to distract them.
It’s the same thing with many adults. How many pairs of shoes do you really need? We build houses now with closets the size of rooms. Nothing is special. And when the years pass, what will the kids remember? What will you remember?
Think about it. What do you remember from a few years or a few decades ago? Was it that trip to Paris or the Grand Canyon? Or was it that extra thing you got?
We accumulate so much stuff these days because we are conditioned from early childhood to think that we need the latest or more of this or that. There are several reasons for this—among them the fact that it keeps the assembly lines moving and the dollars flowing, mostly upstream. But it also consumes resources and depletes the planet. And it doesn’t really help us live better lives.
Once you have what you need, self-fulfillment is possible without having extra stuff. This is not a new concept. Think about Maslow and his hierarchy of human needs.
The first article I contributed to Natural Awakenings was titled “Take a Hike with Your Kids”—and that’s my recommendation for the holidays as well. If you think it’s too late to go to someplace exotic, don’t worry. There are many beautiful places around here.
Of course, my first choice in the area would be Harriman Bear Mountain State Park, but there’s no heed to go that far. There’s the Palisades, just across the Hudson. There’s Central Park and the High Line. And now there are parks and areas reserved for foot traffic along most of the East River and the Hudson. Just google “Parks in Manhattan” for a starter. You’ll be amazed by what you find nearby.
And winter is a great time to go for a hike. One of the best things about hiking in the woods in the winter is you can see farther and see more. With the leaves off the trees, you don’t have to get to the top of the mountain to see a beautiful panorama or the river, lake or next mountain nearby. You can see it right though the trees.
So what’s my recommendation for holiday giving? Get outside. Have an adventure in the city or somewhere close. Experiences, not possessions.
Roger Dubin is marketing director for Natural Awakenings and a volunteer trail supervisor for the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, managing trails in South Eastern Harriman State Park. Contact him at MrNaturalNYC@gmail.com or on Instagram @MrNaturalNYC.