Does “he who dies with the most toys wins” still apply?

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By David Repka

I am a child raised in the “me” generation of the 1970s and “greed is good” generation of the 1980s. It is no surprise that I had a “He who dies with the most toys wins” poster on my wall through high school. The poster showed a Tudor-style Mansion (similar to the one in the photo taken in Greenwich, CT owned at one point by actor by Mel Gibson) with a 12 garage filled with great classic cars (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Bugatti, Porsche, Bentley, Rolls Royce, etc.) motorcycles, sporting equipment, and even  a classic Chris-Craft wooden lake boat. This was the dream life every 12 year old boy in America aspired to… more and more toys!Tudor Mansion

As I make my push to 50 I realize how little the collection of material things matters. I’ve come to realize the truth in the phrase “do we own things? or do our things own us?”.

As a husband and father of three daughters I’ve learned that what matters to me most is collecting experiences, not things.  Opportunities to spend quality time with friends and family are what  get me going these days, not aspirations of having more stuff. I realize that my idea is not very unique and technology has enabled this new simplicity.

We see this in real estate with a generation of 20 and 30 somethings foregoing the “American Dream” of home ownership and instead choosing to live in upscale rental apartments. A rental apartment does not require a commitment for more than 7 to 12 months at a time as jobs, careers and relationships change.  For students that attended a university at a livable, walkable college campus it is hard to turn their back on that level of ease, convenience and shared amenities of the new high quality student housing. A rental apartment has become a lifestyle choice rather than a stepping stone to home ownership.

The Internet has enabled us to live in a world where “sharing” rather than owning is the new normal.  A web connection allows us to enjoy a multi-million dollar vacation home via 3rd Home or charter a yacht via The Moorings, Some have taken to ignoring the hassle of owning, maintaining and insuring a car because there is always a  ZipCar nearby or if they don’t feel like driving at all they can use their iPhone to hire a driver on Uber. The Internet has made my library of hard cover books, movies on DVD, and music on CDs completely irrelevant. Why own content when it can be streamed to my living room via AppleTV or if I am on the road to my iPad or my iPhone with Netflix, Hulu and Pandora ?

We are blessed to live in wonderful times where we can focus on collecting relationships and good times with friends and family rather than spending our time collecting and storing more and more stuff.

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One thought on “Does “he who dies with the most toys wins” still apply?”

  1. David – what a refreshing post. You are absolutely right and have reached the right conclusion. As to the tile of your post and probably one of the biggest lies in this world, “He who dies with the most toys wins” I would add what I once heard a local pastor say – “He who dies with the most toys does not win, he just dies”. It has been written that “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it”. I would encourage you and your readers to think about the words attributed to Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.

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