When I was about twelve years old, I went with my parents to see the movie Anastasia and absolutely loved it. The storyline, the romance between the smoldering Yul Brynner and the lovely Ingrid Bergman and the superlative acting, particularly Helen Hayes’ Academy Award winning performance, made a deep impression on me. A couple of weeks later, I told my parents I wanted to see Anastasia again. They warned me I would not enjoy it as much and tried to talk me out of my idea. However, I would not be deterred. Using the pocket money that I had saved up, I went to the theater by myself. Guess what? I really did not enjoy it anywhere near as much ( though I never admitted it to my parents). There were no surprises and knowing how the story would unfold lost much of its charm in my eyes.
The experience taught me a valuable lesson as it cured me of wanting to reprise pleasurable experiences. Whether movies, vacations, restaurants or books I learned to savor them the first time I experienced them, mindful as I was that there would be no second opportunity.
Sometimes, when I have had to re-visit a place or an experience, it has only reinforced this lesson. For instance, fifteen years ago, we thoroughly enjoyed a vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. The luxury resort, the lavish meals, the tropical climate, the lush vegetation, and the friendliness of the people were things we savored. Then , four years ago, we found ourselves in Punta Cana again attending a destination wedding of the son of a close friend. We were glad to be there for the wedding but there was a sense of deja vu’. All the things we had enjoyed the first time were the same but much of the charm was missing.
With restaurants, one really does not want to go to a different establishment each time and we do make repeat visits to our favorite restaurants with one important caveat. Each time that we go, we take care to order at least one new dish from the menu. Thus, we not only enjoy old favorites but seek out new ones thus adding excitement to our eating out experiences.
When it comes to books, I rarely re-read a book unless it is a recipe book or a spiritual resource. In spite of that, I have three bookcases laden with books that I have read and enjoyed in the past. I know that I will never read them again but I just can’t bring myself to part with them. But that is perhaps true of all book lovers, the inability to read and discard.
I am aware that there are people are my polar opposites. I know there are film buffs who see a movie dozens of times to pick up on little anomalies or obscure clues that the director has deliberately left in. These fans make themselves experts on the films of a certain director and love to talk about them. I meet some of them at the Sunday afternoon film discussion group that I sometimes attend and I wonder how they do it. For me, seeing a movie even twice is too much.
Similarly, there are people who go to the same place year after year and seem to enjoy it. Many of these people own time shares and are therefore obligated to pay repeat visits to the same place. Didn’t they realize what they were signing up for or did they buy the idea that swapping with others time share owners would be easy. I wonder … where is their sense of curiosity, of adventure? This is definitely not for me.
In these matters , there is no wrong or right. They are not wrong to want to replicate their experiences and I am not wrong in always wanting to try something new. To each, according to his taste.