Take my brother, for example. Last month, he and his wife came to visit us in New York and brought along their three year old son, Andy. It was no cheap trip. On top of three full airfares from Spain to New York, they also did commando-style sightseeing of New York which meant shelling out for three tickets at the Empire State Building, the Bronx Zoo, the Natural History Museum, as well as a whole host of lesser known attractions. Then there were the meals out, including kids meals which often went uneaten because Andy, like any three year old, was wary of cuisines which weren’t familiar.
Who knows how much my brother and his family actually spent? One thing is for certain though, Andy wont remember one moment of the trip. Okay, he might remember a few snippets and he might even form a few memories based on the photos he’ll be shown in years to come. But he certainly wont recall every minute of his action-packed and pretty darn expensive two weeks in New York.
Take us, too. We’re currently spending two weeks at Esalen, a hippy dippy teaching institute/hot spring retreat on California's highway one, just south of Big Sur. Even though Brad (my husband) wouldn't know his ying from his yang, or his karma from a chicken korma, he managed to snag himself a teaching gig here for a couple of weeks. Needless to say, I insisted on coming along and helping him out and that meant bringing Benny too.
Brad’s teaching has paid for us to be here and we’re being fed tip-top organic food for free. Nonetheless, it has been an expensive trip – with the flights, the rental car, and the urgent twenty minute drives to Big Sur every few nights to eat overpriced pizza whenever Benny has refused to eat the afore-mentioned tip-top organic food.
Of course, spending the money has been worth it – just as I’m sure it was for my brother. We’re having a wonderful time and Benny seems to be enjoying himself too. He loves Esalen’s hot tubs and the excuse they provide to romp about naked. He loves the big long tables in the lodge where we eat which provide a perfect racetrack for his small collection of cars. He loves the log fires at night and the people playing drums in “Explore Our Essential Rhythms” workshops.
Most of all, though, he has loved two things. First, a member of Brad’s workshop was chucking out some old toys and handed onto Benny a cute Thomas the Tank Engine case containing no less than nine of Benny’s favorite engines. The case hasn’t been out of Benny’s hand in three days. He even slept with Thomas pressed against his cheek last night.
Second, at the weekend, we had to make a run to a grocery store in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Benny was in heaven because the Safeway we found – which has to be the most swishy Safeway in the country – had shopping carts with little toy cars for kids built onto their fronts. Benny jumped in the first one he saw and then happily beeped and vroomed his way around the store.
I’m sure these will be the only two things he’ll remember about our trip. He wont remember the breathtaking coastlines, the unimpeded view of the Pacific ocean from our window. He probably wont even remember the idyllic hot tubs perched on the cliff edge with the waves crashing just twenty feet below.
Benny will remember nine plastic trains and a souped-up shopping cart.
Ah well, it isn’t about the money or the memories, is it? As all the yogis and Buddhists at Esalen would agree, it is about appreciating the moment and enjoying life’s beauty and impermanence.
Ohmm and Namas Dae!