As a part of writing here, I’ve had to dig through my files and pictures to find things to write about. The thing that strikes me most is how hard I had to work to earn my favorite memories, and also how grateful I am that I did.
Comedian Adam Carolla goes on at length about how he’d rather be satisfied than happy. That happiness is like cotton candy, while satisfaction is a steak dinner. Cotton candy’s fine, but steak fills you up. The difference between the two is that satisfaction is earned and long lasting, while happiness is fleeting.
For as long as I can remember, video games have been a part of my life, however I never really grasped the motivation that drove me to try to do better. Playing any game that I can remember, the player is awarded experience points or some equivalent for completing a task. Skills are leveled up, perks are unlocked, points are given, but each of these things only happen when the player does something. There is no bonus for watching the sun set in Red Dead Redemption, or for riding a jet ski in Grand Theft Auto, only for working toward goals.
I’m struck by all the memories I have of hard times being remembered fondly. Drenched in sweat while riding up Mt. St. Helens in 100 degree heat, camping in the snow, working long shifts,… All of these things I now remember being happier than they were, and it’s because I earned those memories. At the top of Windy Ridge I nearly puked from heat exhaustion, and wasn’t “right” for several days following. I hated camping in the snow, because no matter what you do you’re always cold. Nobody wants to work 16 hour days on a garbage truck. Yet they’re all things I smile thinking about, because I earned those memories. I earned that steak dinner of satisfaction.
Nobody can take from me the things I learned about myself, the views from the tops of mountains, or the smell of race gas while chasing someone down the front straight at The Ridge. I’ll always be able to draw on these experiences to get me through tough times, and that’s oddly comforting.
I grew up awkward, with no real confidence, but by putting myself in situations that I had to work my way out of, I gradually became more comfortable in my own skin. I attribute a great deal of this to motorcycles, but honestly this process has been in the works since I was 12 years old. The first time I had a bad camping experience, climbing some god-forsaken hill near Cle Elum with no water in the middle of summer, I had to adapt to my surroundings. Nowadays I wouldn’t make that same mistake again, but I’d know how to fix it if I did. That’s because I earned that experience and that memory.