By Josh Martin
“My friends are my estate.” – Emily Dickinson
Waterloo, Ontario—It’s ten-thirty at night and I’m hurtling down a deserted street inside a shopping cart, like some hobo torpedo. As my mobile, metal coffin rattles down the road at mach five I suddenly realize something—I’m an idiot.
It had all started two minutes earlier when my “friend” Royce offered to push me to the local bar in a shopping cart. Royce and I lived together in university with four other buddies in a dump of a student house on Marshall Street, a few blocks from the bar we were headed to. Never one to pass up a free ride, I accepted the shopping cart offer without a second thought.
I sat in the shopping cart facing forward and cheered Royce on as he pushed me faster and faster down the darkened street. Before long, my courage faltered.
The cart showed no signs of slowing down. I risked a glance over my shoulder to sternly insist that my good and trusted friend stop the cart immediately. Unfortunately, my good and trusted friend was now twenty yards behind me with a stupid grin on his face. He had let go of the cart and sent me hurtling into the night.
Turning forward once again I realized that I was drifting to the right. To my horror I found myself heading straight for a fire hydrant. I vainly attempted to extricate myself from my impending doom. But leaping from a speeding shopping cart is more difficult then you might imagine.
I crashed squarely into the hydrant and was launched from the cart as if from a catapult. I flipped head over heels, cleared the fire hydrant and landed on my back in the grass on the other side with a dull thud.
Yup, I thought to myself. I’m an idiot.
A good reminder for myself
My life on Marshall Street was far from luxurious. We lived in a house that was near collapse. Our diets would make any nutritionist weep. All our furniture was second-hand and exuded a wide range of odours. None of us owned a car. And if our bank accounts were towns from the Wild West, there’d be tumbleweeds rolling through them.
And yet, despite the squalor in which we willingly spent our days and nights, I’ve never laughed so hard or had so much fun. Some of my greatest memories, like being launched from a shopping cart, are from those days in university and I think it says a lot about what’s really important in life.
Principle #2 of the Badge of Awesome Ethos: experiential riches trump material wealth.
Our culture places a lot of emphasis on high-paying jobs, big houses, cars, and other material benchmarks of success. In pursuit of these acquisitions however, we often sacrifice time and relationships with the people that make life so memorable.
Before making a decision, consider the social implications. Maybe buying that new big screen TV will mean you can’t afford to go on that camping weekend with the old gang. And maybe that house in the ‘burbs is big and awesome. But will it mean being far away from the people you enjoy hanging out with?
Cherish your friendships don’t let the material stuff in life get in the way of them. If that means riding a shopping cart to the bar instead of a Ferrari, then I say giddy’up—as long as Royce isn’t driving, of course.
The above story is actually adapted from my book, Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments. Check out the Store to find out how you can get your own copy.