What’s a Vacation, a Trip, a Hike?

An obvious answer - could it be that simple?

By Kurt Rump

I was thinking about my neighbors the other day. They have a couple of small-ish kids – 6 and 9 years old. When summer hits, that family is ON THE GO. This past year they’ve experienced hiking in the Rocky Mountains, an incredible trip to Disney World, a couple of camping trips in local (a drive away) state parks, and most impressive of all, a YES Day, where the parents said YES to anything the kids asked to do. Wow.

And I found myself asking “Why do people do this?”

I get it – you’re probably looking at your screen right now, maybe with your head cocked to the side and a puzzled look on your face. “What a dumb question.” Right? The answer is so obvious, I can’t believe anyone would even ask it.

But I’m asking it – and I promise, I have a point here.

Why do people do this? Buy the gear, get the tickets, pack the suitcases, stash extra chargers and batteries, jam into the car or an airplane (or a train!), get a pet sitter or a house sitter, tromp all that way, spend the money, spend the time… for what?

For the experience, of course!

My neighbors want their kids to have these wonderful experiences. I can’t blame them. What a rich childhood – filled with nature and activity and family and love.

That answer is obvious. The next one is obvious, too.

Once the experience is done, what remains?

DING DING DING – that’s right – the MEMORIES. That’s what remains.

As we shared in a prior post, Why Do We Take Pictures, Anyway?, we all click away on our cameras or phones – sometimes hundreds of times – to capture the moments that will keep the memories alive.

So now you have the experience. You have done the thing – been to the place, seen the sights, dug the holes, hiked the trails, saw the concert, drunk the drinks, sang the anthems… whatever it was, you did it. That experience – that entire experience and all of the little experiences that add up to the whole experience – in the books. Done and dusted, as they say.

And you have the images – the few or many or hundreds of photos you took to document the time you spent and the experiences you lived. Maybe you’ll post those images to Facebook or Instagram. Maybe you’ll send them off to have a photo book made. Maybe you’ll store them in an electronic folder on the hard drive of the computer you are using at the moment and… well… maybe you’ll plan to organize them later.

Sound familiar?

But what is missing?

The stories. The stories of the scratchy socks and the bug bites, or the loud couple in line for that ride. The stories of the way you FELT when you took your kids to a concert and they fell in love with your favorite band and their “oldie” music. The joy on your child’s face when they experienced a certain food for the first time, or beheld a giant tree, or thought they saw a pixie darting behind a bush. Or the faces they made when it was a rainy day but you were determined to “vacation, anyway, darn it!”

Someday, you’ll be sitting around with the kids or the siblings and saying “remember that time when…” and it will be magical. Then someone will find a picture and “I didn’t remember that goofy hat, Eric,” or “Wow, I didn’t realize I was so much taller than you on that trip, Bruce.” Maybe it will be “You know, we had just gotten off that log flume ride, and my clothes were SOAKED. If you look really carefully, you can tell I’m TRYING to smile, but I remember being actually pretty uncomfortable.”

Here’s the thing.

We talk a lot about the old photos. In the spirit of confession, it’s largely because, as you must know by now, Eric inherited boxes and boxes of old photos but people he would have LOVED to ask about them were no longer with us. He and I both feel the “pinch” of time, and we constantly ask ourselves how we can gather the stories today so that our kids and grandkids aren’t going through the “I wish I had asked when I could” situation in 20 or 30 or 40 (we hope) years.

We also realize that, at the time the old photos were taken, there weren’t a lot of options. There wasn’t an internet, and certainly not a Facebook or Instagram. Heck, there wasn’t a computer, let alone a vision for how all the computers in the world could one day talk to each other. There were cameras, and there were albums, bibles, and yes, boxes. Sometimes people wrote on the back of the pictures. Much of the time, they didn’t.

Or maybe, in your family, the questions DID get asked. Maybe someone jotted down the replies, or maybe the answers simply became an oral history – wonderful in the moment, but disappearing over time if not often retold. Perhaps a recording was made – but where is that now? Where are the pieces of paper that go with the pictures? Was a history of some sort written on the back and since faded with time, now unreadable and un-remember-able?

But now we have options.

As you saw with my post about Betsy’s book launch, The Next Best Thing to Being There, my cousin captured “today’s” happening – in real time – and created a place where we could all go to be there – to hear more about it, see all of the pictures, practically listen in on the conversation that was happening. So cool.

Thanks to those boxes and boxes of pictures with few if any people who could tell us about them, we have learned two valuable lessons.

First, to avoid the “I wish I had asked when I could” situation, we ask the questions NOW.

Second, to avoid the “What was that story about this one” situation, we connect the stories to the photos to the memories NOW. We share the memories NOW, while they’re fresh.

We’re connecting the family… now.

In doing so, we create an experience – of an experience – that can last for a lifetime and beyond.


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