Not long ago, a study came out showing what wise men (like Thoreau, below) have been saying for some time: Experiences are a better use of your money than things. A survey of 154 people found that the benefit from spending money on an experience lasted longer than a thing, which faded after 6-8 weeks. “As nice as your new computer is,” the story quoted study author Ryan Howell as saying, “it’s not going to make you feel alive.”
Other studies have shown similar results, and it’s something those of us who have been lucky enough to live and travel abroad hear often: “Man, I wish I would have done that.” Not that it makes life a big bowl of cherries, but when you’re looking back, the things you did will surely bring you more pleasure than the things you had. Mark Twain may have said it best: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
A review of Wells Tower’s new short story collection here.
From a recent World Hum piece: It happens every time: Within a few hours of buying plane tickets, I find myself standing in front of my bookshelves, fantasizing, calculating and trying to decide exactly which books I’m going to bring on my trip. Inevitably, I end up with a tower of titles that would be tough for Robinson Crusoe to plow through. “War and Peace”? Sure! “Infinite Jest”? No problem! “Don Quixote”? Should be able to knock that one off. Read the rest here.
A short piece I did on the arts revival along the upper Mississippi River Valley for National Geographic Traveler just came online. Prose-wise, it’s not the most riveting thing you’ll ever read, but some of the museums and such cropping up are exciting: David Chipperfield’s Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa; the Jean Nouvel’s new Guthrie; the expansion of Frank Gehry’s Weisman Art Museum. For those of us who remember when major cultural events around here included the banjo pickers at the art fair, new macramé patterns, and Mötley Crüe rocking the local arena, these sorts of things are reason for hope. And while there’s still an unfortunate amount wildlife art hanging on the walls, at least there are signs of life.
In 1925, Percy H. Fawcett was trudging through the Amazon, looking for what he was convinced was a lost civilization, which he called “Z,” when he vanished. New Yorker writer David Grann stumbled on this anecdote while researching another story, and soon found himself so wrapped up in Fawcett’s Saga that he was on the verge of becoming one of the “Fawcett Freaks” who have also disappeared into the Amazon. Fortunately, he didn’t and instead he wrote his fantastic new book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, about which I interviewed him for World Hum.