Monday, February 9, 2009

A Real Value


It’s a simple word. The implications of it, however, are not so simple.

This is how Webster defines it:


1. A numerical quantity measured or assigned or computed; "the value assigned was 16 milliseconds".
2. The quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable; "the Shakespearean Shylock is of dubious value in the modern world".
3. The amount (of money or goods or services) that is considered to be a fair equivalent for something else; "he tried to estimate the value of the produce at normal prices".
4. Relative darkness or lightness of a color: "I establish the colors and principal values by organizing the painting into three values--dark, medium...and light"-Joe Hing Lowe.
5. (music) the relative duration of a musical note.
6. An ideal accepted by some individual or group; "he has old-fashioned values".


1. Fix or determine the value of; assign a value to, as of jewelry or art work.
2. Hold dear; "I prize these old photographs".
3. Regard highly; think much of.
4. Place a value on; judge the worth of something; "I will have the family jewels appraised by a professional".
5. Estimate the value of something.


How about this one:

Value: the worth of something to any individual (s), regardless of the worth to another individual (s).

Just recently a friend of mine, a very enthusiastic individual, made a statement that struck me. I don’t know why, but the moment he said it a thought came to mind. Here is what he said (used with permission):

I love creating value where previously there was no value!!

Of course he was talking about a publication and I believe he will indeed create value where there is none right now. However, the words went deeper for me.

Let me explain. One of the most valuable things I own is an old—I mean OLD—Black and Decker drill my dad gave to me a couple of years ago. It’s near priceless for me. First of all, I watched my dad use this drill when I was a kid and then when I became a teen he let me use it. It’s big, it’s powerful, it can break your wrists if you are not holding it correctly and the bit catches. Trust me, I know.

I was over at my parents’ house one day and Dad was cleaning out his tool shed. He asked if I wanted an old toolbox, which I said yes. Then he picked up an old sander and a couple of other tools. “Put these in your car, take them home with you.”

I did as Dad said. Then he pulled out the old drill and handed it to me.

“Dad, I can’t take this,” I said.

“Yeah you can. Take it.”

He shoved the drill into my hands and I stared at it. I think I was in shock that he was actually giving it to me. I set it on the front seat—the other tools went in the trunk. When I got home, I put a bit in it and clamped down a piece of wood. I drilled several holes just for the sake of doing so.

The board is hanging in my garage, its many holes in it. I use the drill whenever I work on anything, even putting long screws in things. One time I thought I had broken the drill—my dad taught me how to get bits out when I don’t have a chuck key for it. I gripped the spinning assembly and it stopped, just like always, but then it wouldn’t go back into place.

I was devastated. Seriously. I was upset that I had broken the drill. I finally managed to get it unlocked and let out a deep sigh of relief.

It is one of my most prized possessions. Its value to me is like the MasterCard commercial: PRICELESS. For me, this Black and Decker drill would be worth more than it would be to say, my wife, or a friend who works construction who has three or four drills . . . or, really anyone. The VALUE of that drill can never be replaced with money or another one like it.

This is because of the attachment to it. It was my dad’s. It’s now mine. Hopefully it will still be working when my son gets old enough to use it. It’s as much an heirloom for me as your mother’s fine china.

Go back to the statement for a minute.

I love creating value where previously there was no value!!

That is what happened to that drill the day Dad gave it to me. It may have been only worth a couple of bucks if we tried to sell it in a yard sale, but when it went from his hands to mine, the true value of it soared. We made some value out of something with little value to it anymore.

Do you see where I am going with this? Do you see?

If not, let me clarify.

Each person has something that they cherish. It could be a stuffed animal a loved one gave to them. (I have a little stuffed raccoon that was given to me when I was six and had surgery on my ears. His name is Rocky. I still have him today. My raccoon is 32 years old and a very valued possession). It could be a piece of jewelry. Maybe it’s a ticket to a sporting event or a concert. Who knows?

You do.

That thing that you cherish, think about it for a minute. Now, think about it a little more. How many people would actually say it has any real value? To them it may just be a piece of junk, but to you it’s something far more precious.

My son has a little blanket he got from my work when he was born. It has a dog head and arms and is white with black spots. His first name is embroidered at the bottom of it. Logan simply cause it his ‘Doggie.’ To my four year old this blanket is everything. When he gets a boo boo (yeah I use that word) he wants his Doggie. He will wrap it around the boo boo if he can and hold it there. If he is crying, he usually stops within a few seconds. He lays Doggie on his pillow at night and lays his head on it. He talks to Doggie a lot and we rarely leave the house without him.

We asked Logan what Doggie’s name was and he looked at us with a DUH expression on his face. He said, “Doggie Brown.” The blanket is family to him. That’s value. That’s real value.

It may not mean much to anyone else, but without Doggie, Logan will not go to sleep, no matter how tired he is.

Now, I know this is not what my friend meant when he made his statement, but this is how it struck me. Since he was referring to a publication, let me put it into a more writing oriented perspective.

Think about a publication you want to get into. Think about an award you want. Think about something that you want out of your writing experience. What is it? Popularity? Money? Both? To be a Best Seller? An award winner? What is it?

What if it is just to get your first publication? That’s big, folks. But, say your first publication is an online, non paying market. Does that make the publication less of a big deal? No, it doesn’t. That first publication for the writer means someone somewhere liked what he/she wrote enough to publish it. It may not be a big deal to the writer who has published 200 stories and has made some money off of it, but it is to that writer getting that first publication. That publication is the most valuable one there is—it builds confidence, if not monetary gains.

Now do you get it? What may be worth nothing to you may be worth the world to someone else.

Again, I know this is not what my friend meant—he meant marketing and getting the name of a publication out there; getting folks fired up about it and bringing in revenue and the like. But, for me, the statement stirred other thoughts about the true meaning of the word VALUE as used in every day life.

There are other ways to take that word but, for me, this is my view on it. I’ll say this and then I’m done: If you see something that is insignificant to you but important to someone else, try to find out why it is important, why they cherish something the way you do. There may be a touching story behind it. One that you can take home with you and think about; one that may change your view on the value of things in one’s life.

For now, I’m AJ and I’m out.

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