I think I’ve figured it out – the secret to leading a full life is to string together as many meaningful experiences as possible. Think about it – when we fall into predictable routines, life becomes dull. It loses its luster. We get up. We go to work. We come home. We do it again the next day. If we’re lucky, this grind is dotted with exciting nuggets that keep things interesting. But for most of us, this is how we go through life. Except for weekends, and vacations, life is routine. Machinelike. Predictable. The stuff that matters most, the stuff of memories, is far less frequent. And far less predictable.

I’m currently on summer vacation with my family. We do it every year at about the same time. Basically, a routine. But the thing that dawned on me this trip is how the experiences that matter most are never the really big things we plan in advance – but the little things we can’t predict. The moonlight splashing across my daughter’s face as I carry her to her bedroom after a long day of snorkeling. The setting sun in my wife’s eyes as we share an ice cream on a pier. The getting caught in a rainstorm on the opposite side of the island and the laughter that fills the golf cart all the way back home. These are the meaningful experiences that stay with me. These are the things that make my regular life worth the effort. Because the truth is, no one who is at the end of their life ever looks back fondly at their routines. No, the secret to leading a full life isn’t about how much work we can squeeze out of every day, or how much wealth we can accumulate – it’s about the little moments we can’t predict. The meaningful experiences that stay with us forever.


Jim Mitchem

The Island

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.