I am not a big fan of holding onto physical objects. Anybody who has read my decluttering journey wouldn’t doubt this even for a bit. However, some things hold a lot of meaning because of the experiences attached to them. Today, I am going to share with you a couple of such experiences.

All this started at an event I attended a couple of weeks ago. I facilitated a panel discussion of immigrant entrepreneurs who are successfully leading their own businesses. They were sharing their stories of how they got started, overcame struggles, and grabbed opportunities to be where they are today.

Their stories were entertaining, and lessons were insightful. There was one story from the lively storyteller, Dr. Kedar Gupta of ARCenergy, that especially stuck with me. He mentioned that when he first came to the USA he had only $8 with him. During his stopover in Europe, he saw a big bar of Cadbury chocolate priced at $2.40 .

If you are Indian, you know Cadbury chocolate is very dear to your heart. 😉  You probably grew up with it, and have fond memories attached to it. Dr. Gupta was no different. But he knew he only had $8 with him. After much thought, he decided he wants to spend 30% of everything he had on the Cadbury’s chocolate.

Since then he has gone on to build his own highly successful technology company in New Hampshire. He said that today he can buy any food item any time he wants. But nothing comes close to the sweet taste of that first bite of Cadbury’s chocolate he had decades ago!

But the story doesn’t end here. After he shared this story, an audience member asked him a question.

“How do you go from having $8 to starting a business, and then making it successful?”

His answer was simple – “Grit!”

“If you really decide you want to do something, go for it! Without risk, comes no reward. You will find ways to make it happen just as I found a way to pay for that chocolate“, he chuckled.

He then gave examples of how different opportunities presented themselves to him, how he built professional relationships that helped him get started with his business with almost nothing, and how he never gave up.

It was inspiring!

Dr. Gupta’s chocolate memory made me think about my own memories that are so meaningful to me that they provide me strength. These memories may not reflect the wisest decision you ever made, but they sure do give you the inspiration you need to keep going. A gift that my parents gave me 15 years ago ranks high on the list of such memories.

I was in my late teens. I must be in my first or second year of BE (Bachelor of Engineering Degree).

Just in the previous year, my father had given me his camera to use. It was an analog camera.

Unlike today’s ease of taking photos with pretty much any device, any time and place you want, analog cameras used to be taken out only on special occasions. Photography was also a comparatively expensive hobby for a teenager because of the cost of a good quality camera and films, and developing the prints. It wasn’t instant gratification either. You had to wait until all of the film is used, and then take it for processing and printing.

One day, I had gone hiking with a bunch of my friends. I took my camera with me because I couldn’t wait any longer to process the film. I had to finish that roll by taking the last few photos, and see what’s in there. Plus, the occasion was special. All of us high school friends were getting together for the last time before leaving for college in different cities.

We hiked the mountain, ate lunch at the summit, and took some photos to remember the occasion. Unfortunately, in all that fun and frolic, I lost my camera somewhere. We looked for it everywhere we could think of but no luck. I had lost my camera (or my dad’s camera which he was allowing me to use.) And who knows, which photos were in it? They were lost, too!

I was terrified. What would dad say? He is surely going to scold me for being so reckless. After all, he had asked me to take good care of his camera. I was scared to go home alone so my friends came to drop me off (and to face my parents).

As soon as I got home, I started crying. After explaining what had happened, I was standing still in anticipation of what’s to come.

But to my total surprise, my parents just brushed it off like nothing had happened. They just said that you can buy a new camera any time but you can’t relive these precious times with high school friends again, even if you want to. So let’s chat about how the hike was, and what all fun things you guys did there.

It was such a relief! It’s in moments like this that I loved my parents a tad bit more. 😉

Fast forward almost a year later. My birthday was coming up. I was in my dorm room (or as we Indians call it, “hostel”). I was studying for my semiannual exams. Just then a friend brought me a package that was delivered for me.

When you are away from home, homesick, and bored to death by studying, any mail from home makes your day. This one was a package, and a complete surprise so it made it that much special. I was so excited to see what snacks mom had sent in this care package.

But when I opened the package, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a brand new camera with a birthday card!

This camera is to me what that chocolate bar is to Dr. Gupta. It was in that moment, that I understood the power of love, forgiveness, and trust. My parents must have thought that the camera will make me happy, and it did. But what made this experience so much more meaningful to me is the inspiration that it gave me.

I always take great care of my things. I don’t own much. So whatever I do own, I have to love it, and I treat it with respect. Losing that camera was more disappointing for me than it was for my parents. It felt like a reflection of my tardiness. And my parents sure understood my sentiment even without I ever saying it. This new camera was their way of telling me – “Life happens. It’s OK. You just move on, and build new memories. We still trust you.

No matter how fancy a camera I buy in future, I know for sure, it will not even come close to what this little camera stood for. I am forever grateful to that camera, for my parents’ love and trust, and the lessons they teach me (many of them are unintentional but stand tall through their actions).

What about you?
What is your “camera” or “Cadbury chocolate”? What is one physical object or thing that means a lot more to you because of the experience that came with it? Did it teach you life lessons that you will never forget?

I would love to hear your stories! After all, who we are today is the product of how we responded to all our experiences until now. Thank you for sharing your stories below or on our Facebook page!

Image credit: condesign at Pixabay