Or, how I found out that humans (including myself) are abysmally bad at predicting what will make them happy.
I am always impressed when people who haven’t known me for very long realize that though I am generally low-key, I can be incredibly stubborn at times. This is a trait that I’ve had since early childhood, and probably one of the main reasons that my dad and I would butt heads when I was younger. I especially don’t like it when someone tries to tell me how to feel or tries to manipulate me.
Wen I was kid, maybe 11 or so, my family would sometimes take weekend trips to the coast for lobster. My brother and I would go and get some totally pedestrian food, like hotdogs. And my parents were trying so hard to get us to try lobster, and we both refused. I remember feeling skeptical about their motivations. Why do you want me to try lobster so badly? What if I try and I don’t like it? Maybe you don’t think you know me as well as you think you do. There was that obstinate part of me that resented being urged into something. But I finally relented and discovered that I love lobster. It really was as good as they said it would be. Though I didn’t care, at first, for cracking the shells or dealing with the yellowjackets that would swarm around the carcasses. But in the end, I fell in love with going to Abbott’s and getting the lobster roll, squinting in the sun and breathing in the salt air of the coast. Mom and Dad would place the lobster shells on another picnic table so the wasps wouldn’t bother us. I was a teenager, but it is still one of my treasured family memories, something we just did.
Another memory: I am age 8 and we are in England. We’re there for three weeks, my parents, my brother, and my grandmother. At one point, we are in Cornwall and my dad wants to take me into the ocean, my mom isn’t into it and stays on the beach with my brother. The water is surprisingly warm yet I am afraid of the waves, but my dad tells me that it will be okay, he wants me to enjoy the ocean. He holds me up and carries me to where the water level is waist high–and one of the waves, maybe two feet high, crash over our heads. I am scared and then the waves crash over both of our heads, we emerge out of the foam and I realize how totally fun that was!
These memories of mine became a pivotal point in my life, a late understanding that often I don’t know what I may really like, unless I try it. My powers of anticipation can be totally off-base, and I’ve never forgotten that. So my motto for life is that I have to experience it to know. I can’t know what I haven’t experienced, so a new experience should always be honored.
In that vein, I found myself serendipitously invited to a Badger game on Saturday. A friend of mine was going to go with his brother, but his brother became ill, and he invited me in his stead. I have never had the occasion to experience a home football game from one of the suites, but it ended up being super fun! Okay, so I’m super lame and don’t like being cold – so hanging out on a private balcony gave me great pleasure. It was a bit surreal . . . but I enjoyed every minute of it. Got lots of vitamin D too, as the sun was setting full on my face. And they even won–a nice surprise. I was just glad to experience it from start to finish.