The price of everything
Cynicism is said to be knowing ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’. Lasse Rochstad recently published a book with this title. I have not read it yet but knowing Lasse it will be full of common sense and wisdom. It’s good to know the price of things but we should also know their value. A sunset, beauty of any kind, when you find it, is such a compelling part of life, such an education in itself, that not to appreciate it is to lose much of the reason for living.
Deep appreciation strokes the senses to a spiritual orgasm.
Appreciation of beauty is often unconscious. Feelings are hard to capture, difficult to describe. The morning light shining through the windows on a heavy winter’s day is something to pause and look at whatever the pressures of life. But so are many things we don’t notice. Visitors to Singapore always remark on how green the city is. You will seldom hear a resident saying that. It gets taken for granted. Just as we so often take each other for granted.
How to balance knowing the price of everything with appreciating the value of what we have?
It is both remarkably easy and horrendously difficult. It has nothing to do with thinking how fortunate you are by comparison with others. Your health will be a considerable driver of your life. Acute pain requires courage and that will be called for from most people a few times in their lives. Some will suffer chronically with little or no relief from pain and depression. This is especially true today when we know so much more about mental health, its causes and how to handle it. We have yet to understand the critical importance of mental exercise. But even good health will seldom be the driver of appreciation.
Appreciation is establishing a good relationship with circumstances, nothing more.
Our cynicism unfortunately eats into our morals. If we think everyone else being a crook entitles us to be crooked too, we are on a slope from which there is seldom a return. Fortunately, as humans, we have the ability to be counterintuitive and often use this at the right time, such as planet threat or moral degradation. Humankind is not so much guilty of sinning as guilty of seeing others’ sins as licenses. ’You too’ is not an accusation. It is permission.
I see the behaviour of Trump and Johnson as reflecting our own behaviour. We rail against them because we know that given the license of what they do, we will do the same but on a smaller scale. Few confessors can hear their penitents’ sins without considering them as a standard.
The ‘humph’ of disapproval has always been an ‘ok’ of empowerment.
Interesting that when morals fall, threats often arrive at about the same time. Fighting dogs part when a tsunami hits. Planet destruction is so sobering that it may bring common sense in its wake. If it does it will be a chastening thought that blame is pointless and, if attributable at all, is to be seen largely in the mirror of life. Anyway, it’s the quirkiness and unpredictability of your neighbour that converts the dreariness of orderly, decent life into a souffle worth tasting.
The Froth O’Bubble that precedes Kindness is a bittersweet cocktail we all need at times.
Must all that immediately lead somewhere? I think not. No good asking you to “ponder”and then demanding an instant conclusion. Reflection, by definition, is mental rumination, requiring a second thinking. Parliamentarians should remember this. Thought, not speed, is of the essence.
But I do have a request. Please find time to ask yourself ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What am I getting out of life?’. There is no specific age when you should do this – these are questions always worth posing. They are especially relevant when you approach mid-forties or when you first question your most stable relationship.
These are times when you need clarity most.