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I am firmly on the side of this is a spectrum of things to experiences as we simply cannot have one without another. (You cannot go on a roadtrip without a car or go fishing without a pole; and hopefully the things you buy become part of your experience. They are stuck together.) The spectrum is different for all of us, obviously.

Food can be an experience or not. I have celiac disease, so going to a fancy GF bakery is a wonderful, rare experience! Also, going out to lunch with coworkers can mean I eat an iceberg lettuce salad with crappy dressing and still spend 15 bucks, so totally not an experience. It was just overpriced food and I should have just made my lunch and skipped.

A manicure, for me as a person who makes art with her hands is a wasteful thing, as it will soon be gone and is not relaxing when people mention my terrible cuticles. One the other hand (HA!) a pedicure with my mom, who is mobility reduced, is an experience. Because we sit still, she can do it with ease, and we get massages and chat and enjoy ourselves.

The thing that toasts my nuts about this mantra is that we exist not in a state of permanent vacation. I use things and do my job and take care of myself. Buying a hammock is a thing, but also an experience when I put myself in it. Buying a whale sculpture at an auction was certainly an EXPERIENCE, but also seeing that sparkly bastard in the skylight of my kitchen every morning is an also experience. A really nice immersion blender is a thing, but making soup every week to have for lunch at work is part of my weekly experience and beats putting soup in a blender and having more damn dishes to wash.

The idea I have embraced is one of “joy utility.” Whatever gives you the most joy is the thing you should buy, whether its a cruise or new pans (because your old ones were so cheaply made that the handles were heavier than than the pans so they always tipped to one side and made you feel a lot of feelings whenever you made an egg because nothing could ever heat evenly). Sometimes we need to recognize that an experience is only a wee bit of our time and a useful thing or an amazingly hilarious thing (aforementioned whale) will change the remaining bulk of our time into a smoother, easier ride.