When I was young, a box of Cracker Jack was one of my favorite treats. I loved the sweet brown coated popcorn and peanuts. I’m not sure what the coating was, but it tasted great. I remember that I would pop open a box, and pour the treat into my mouth. What made Cracker Jack even better was the toy surprise in each box. To many, these surprises are no big deal, but they were to me and obviously they had their appeal, because Cracker Jack and its surprise are still around today. The surprise, which was never bigger than an inch square and not much thicker than a quarter, could be a pendant , a book, a puzzle (I remember one where you maneuver a little steel ball through a maze andther was like a mini pinball machine), a set of tattoos (one of my favorites), a whistle, a top, and so on. Most prizes were OK but some were mini treasures, and I kept them all – yes, ALL. Some I played with a little but was always careful not to break or ruin them. Most were never played with, just gently handled and prized. Today I look back and see how this seemingly innocent practice might not have been the best behavior.
Those days were so long ago, and yet I still have those prizes in a safe place. I pull them out every few years as I am looking for something else and come across them. I reflect on how excited I was to collect each item. Today, I am so unlikely to treasure things like I did hen; there are just too many distractions. So, I hang on to the Cracker Jack surprises to remind me of my childhood and more innocent and simple times. What will I do with this collection? This is something I have not thought much about. I assume that my children will think they are silly and throw them out when I am gone or let some child that will not appreciate them destroy them, such is common when things are obtained without effort. Maybe I should have enjoyed them more when they meant more to me. This seems to be a theme in my life.
Here’s a true situation that represents so many like it in my life. I have a cracked and torn bicycle seat and I get a new one that is much better for my birthday. What do I do? I keep using the old one until it can’t possibly function as a bike seat anymore, because I hate to waste anything. In the meantime, he new one site around doing nothing. This is what they did 150 years ago, right? They saved the best for church and special occasions. Sounds logical, but this course has failed me. What if I never get to the new seat because the old one doesn’t wear out fast enough? What if I get a different style of bike to reduce my back pain and it uses a different type of seat? I will have totally missed out on the benefit of the new seat.
Is it bad, meaning wasteful, for me to use the new one and hang on to the old one just in case I might need it again. If I do this, the reality is that I will never want to use the old one, which leads to the waste of just getting rid of it. Maybe the answer lies in how much a nice seat really mean to me. If I find something I want to have, then I should just buy it, as long as I don’t get carried away, and enjoy it right now. If something doesn’t really matter to me, which is a philosophy I fight with myself on and is a topic for another time, than I can save myself some money and just buy it when there is true true need.
I used a simple seat example here, but it flows into many more things, such as cameras, coats, shoes, tools, clothes, etc. So, if I solve this issue for a seat, I can solve it for many other aspects of my life too. I think the moral of the story is that I need to enjoy the things I have now. I cannot save what can bring me joy today for the future in hopes that it will being me joy then. I must act on joy now.