Saturday, May 8, 2010

On Experiential Goods

Experiences are isolated episodes in our past. They have beginnings and endings and are intangible, existing only in our memories. This can make them more enduring than the tangible goods, more inclusive and encompassing of our lives in general, and more pleasurable as perception filters out the discomforting, the inconvenient, and the imperfect. We don't focus on what preceded or followed it, or even what annoyed or bothered us during it, only savoring the selective pleasures of it. Often you don't realize how much you enjoy something until it's gone, yet its absence makes the heart grow fonder. It is what makes it an experience in the first place and we focus more on gain than the loss of it. Then the fondness grows through reminiscence while familiarity breeds contempt or at least the discount of neglect of our present surroundings.

Products fulfill ongoing needs extending over time and are usually replaced by newer, better products that displace those of older ones. Products form a part of the substance of our experiences, but experience encompasses much more whose cost is often only the time to appreciate it such as nature or people. Aren't the best things in life free? Is there anything better than free? Experience endures through memory as products are consumed and deteriorate. Yet, I can still recall the satisfaction and memories of an old jacket lovingly worn out after twenty five years, or the comfort of a well worn pair of shoes that endured for years. How difficult it is to anticipate these though. Sometimes newer isn't better, and products end up as losses over time, reminding us of the transitoriness of existence.