As I sat down to journal this morning, I spotted the fresh tulips I bought just four days ago. They are already drooping. One or two more days and I’ll have to throw them out. Is it worth the money when
they only last such a short time? What I’m really asking, is this:
Is beauty worth $8.00 + tax?
I know the answer AND I can see the way my mind wants to weigh the benefit, the value, the worth – as though beauty (and so many other things) is practical, something to be calculated through a Return-On-Investment filter. And this got me to wondering: How many other values that defy measurement do I subject to such?
Multiple examples rush to mind:
- The measure of my own self-worth tends to decrease the higher the number on the scale. (I’m not proud of this – even disagree with it, fundamentally – and still…)
- I have been known to measure a blog post’s success (and subsequently the worth and value of my writing) on the number of shares, likes, or views it receives.
- Based on the response I receive (or don’t) from a text or email I send will measure my willingness to continue to express my desire.
This kind of measurement doesn’t serve me at all! And yet, I do it all the time.
But here’s the thing: self-worth, creativity, and desire don’t bow to a cost-benefit analysis.
There is no measurement or rating to place on such things – as though we can analyze and determine in advance whether a quality like hope or love or grief or disappointment is worth it. And when we try, it’s a slippery slope. More than slippery, it’s downright dangerous.
- The tulips are going to die. Why spend the $8?
- Allowing myself to express grief surely won’t change the past. Why bother?
- This happiness won’t last more than 5 or 6 days. That’s not long enough. Better to tone things down than to be disappointed.
- Even if I don’t eat this candy bar today, I’ll weaken tomorrow. The effort at restraint isn’t worth it given my certainty of the future.
Though a few of these may sound somewhat silly, more of them sound familiar. This is exactly what we do. This is exactly what I do. Here’s my best (and most current) example:
Too often when I sit down to write I am measuring the value of my words as I go along. I hear the voice of the critic, fear certain misunderstanding, worse being ignored, and have already begun quantifying them, limiting them, cutting them off at the knees. I have already dismissed their significance and the value of my ongoing investment. In effect, I’ve done to myself (before anyone else can) the very thing I fear: I’ve ignored my own words! Sometimes I so completely pre-determine their value and worth (or lack thereof) that I never begin! (I know you know what I mean here…)
Further, in (pre) measuring the worth of something, in determining it’s value (or not) we actually enable the very thing we intend to prevent.
- 6 days of beauty in my home isn’t worth $8 — and so there is no beauty in my home.
- My weight will never change — and so it doesn’t.
- My grief won’t heal anything — and so I don’t heal.
- My happiness will never last — and so it doesn’t.
- My writing will never go anywhere — and so it doesn’t.
- Why keep hoping? I’m going to end up single anyway — and so I will be.
Here’s what I’m coming to:
Risky investments and not measuring the approximate value and worth, even logic, of our every move might actually be the safest bet. Buying tulips even though they’ll droop and die. Making healthy choices even though it’s hard. Choosing to grieve even though it’s scary. Allowing myself to feel joy knowing it will not last. Writing and creating no matter who understands (or not), reads it (or not), loves it and me (or not). Giving away my heart and desiring, desiring, desiring even though I might get
Stated even more clearly, a safe bet is never as interesting, exciting, or fun as tossing our fate to the winds, holding on to hope, and being willing to risk everything for what we value most and deeply desire.
I’m off to buy more tulips…