The Experience of Living
We seem to be surrounded by a world that demands of us experience; whether that’s work experience, romantic or sexual experience, or ultimately life experience. The use of the word “experience” has shrivelled and peeled away from the true value and original meaning, turning into a label to be stamped against the CV of our identity. But then what is experience? Is it the repetition of a particular task or skill? Possibly the quantitative accumulation of time in a specific field? Maybe it’s simply doing things?
I’d like to believe that experience, and equivalently an experience, is more than a string of actions or activities. That an experience isn’t simply visiting a country to stare at ruins or dinning at a lucrative restaurant where taste only stimulates your tongue. An experience can’t be flat or one dimensional, it can’t be measured by quantity or the physical. An experience drenches you in knowledge, it pierces into the realm of emotion, trickling through your spirit and soul and seeping into your heart and mind. Its those moments when you feel something stir inside of you. Although you can’t quite explain it, you feel more than a thrill; you feel zeal and liberation, safe and strong, and sometimes you feel a looming pain reaching into the ribs that cage your heart.
An experience doesn’t always present itself loud and persistently, it can also be a more subtle, gentle lace that curls around a moment. Whether a local has held your hand around the grip of a pot as you, together, cook traditional meals or you reveal all your little nibbling secrets to a friend. An experience has you actively participating, not only enveloped in the act but also absorbing and reacting with the environment. An experience has you interactive with time, place and people. Acquiring knowledge on how to think, act and behave; slowly manifesting into wisdom.
Experiences are all those little thumb prints that press and mould the clay of who you are. That is why we seek out the experience of living. It brings meaning to the time we spend alive, meaning to who we are and meaning to what we leave behind. Without the experience of living; without taking the time to notice the many reasons why brows furrow, without creating art and thought, without plucking a piece of our heart and handing it to another, we wouldn’t truly be living… we would only ever be existing.