I try to live my life in a way that values experience over stuff. Last night my perspective on this was challenged.
We were eating at a restaurant, and at this restaurant there are a few video games near the tables. We often go here and let Faith and her friends play games while we wait for our dinner to arrive. Usually I grab a handful of quarters from our coin jar at home before heading out. In my mind these coins fall into the “blow” category, meaning they can be spent on whatever we feel like spending them on. Last night we were already out when we decided to eat out, so I didn’t have the chance to grab some quarters.
When we sat down at our table I realized the only cash I had on me was a 20 dollar bill. I asked our waitress if she could break the 20 so that Faith could play some games. I expected to get five or ten in one dollar bills and the rest in fives or tens. She came back with 20 one dollar bills. I set the stack on the table and let Faith take what she wanted.
Her favorite game is the claw game. The one that has the claw that reaches down to pick up a stuffed animal or teddy bear. This particular claw game works pretty well and you actually have a good chance of winning. On this night, however, the claw game was nearly cleaned out with just a small layer of toys on the very bottom. The odds are definitely better when the game is full of toys.
After Faith tried a couple of times I shared with her some insight on why the game wasn’t working as well tonight. She was undaunted by the odds, and continued to play. After a few minutes she had spent enough that she could have bought several of the toys she was attempting to grapple with the claw.
After a few more failed attempts, I found myself growing frustrated that she wanted to continue to try to win a toy. But then I took a look at her glowing face as she operated the claw’s joystick. I could see the joy she was feeling. It was then that I remembered that experience trumps stuff. Even though the goal of the game is to get “stuff”, the joy is in playing the game.
After that I relaxed a bit and let her blow through the rest of the 20 dollars.
It’s interesting, because if had she played one of the non-prize type video games, like a motorcycle game, I wouldn’t have the same mindset that I had with the claw game. With the claw game I felt like she was wasting money if she didn’t win, but I didn’t feel that way with other video games. She’s never gotten first place on the motorcycle game. In fact, her best finish ever was sixth place. Yet in the claw game, it felt like a failure if she didn’t win.
I started the evening with a “stuff” mindset, and I’m happy to say that my daughter helped me end the night in an experience mindset.