09/26/2014 05:37 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2014

It's All Precious

They say we value things more before we get them and once we've lost them. Not while we have them.

I like traveling to places for very short stays, two to three days, because every moment becomes more precious. It feels almost decadent to not stay longer, especially if you're going far away. You have to respect your time, because it's running out from the beginning.

You're going to wake up earlier than usual and walk all over the city and meet with as many of the people that you know and see most of "what you need to see." Feeling tired is not even something that will cross your mind. These days are fuller and better lived than your average day.

Every summer, before I became all grown-up, I used to go to Vancouver for five weeks because my dad is from there, and that's where most of our big family lives. It's a beautiful place and I always looked forward to going, but it was interesting to compare my experience to that of my cousins Jennie and Abbie who came in from New Orleans or Austin for about five days usually. They always told me they wished they could stay longer, but in those five days they got to see everyone whom I saw in my five weeks and do most of the same fun things with them: bike around Stanley Park; go to our great aunt's house and get in the hot tub with all the cousins; walk around and shop downtown; taste the great sushi again; play tennis doubles; rent a small boat and go along the coast; take an early jog on the beach; attend family parties and listen to older relatives tell stories over margaritas, and so on. In fact most of the large gatherings were planned over a few specific days and family members would fly in just for that time.

When you're "only here for a few days," everyone is more excited and impatient to meet with you. Even if they have no time, they'll create time. Even if they're tired, they won't be tired. You're passing. You're an opportunity that is going to expire. You're not going to have empty, directionless afternoons during which everyone is taken. You have not "recently moved to the city" in which you'll "definitely be seeing more of each other" and little more will happen.

Scarcity creates a sense of value. They say that when we're busier, we do more. The less time we have, the more we monitor how we spend it, which is probably why some successful people have personal assistants.

On a first date, there's the same feeling because a first time is a taste of something new that might run out. To discover is to live for the first time and what do we do when we find a new place we love? We try to take note of it and remember it to come back, to be able to live it again.

I'm curious to think of how we can recreate the wonder in every instant that comes with scarcity and experience it more often. I think that's what they mean when they say people in relationships that work out don't "take each other for granted." If every day your mother picks you up at school it becomes a given in your mind. Then there's one day she can't make it and it isn't so obvious after all. We love most when that love is threatened.

Familiarity and routine are just impressions. What is "same old" for you is new and stunning to someone else, and if you try to empathize with that point of view and rediscover something from another angle, it will feel precious again.

We also become comfortable with our own selves and anticipate too easily how we're going to live and behave throughout our days. So I like to think of something that I would not usually imagine myself doing and do it, or try something new with someone I know and realize I didn't know everything about them yet. To make it a habit to break my habits once in a while.