Costs, Worths, and Values

What something costs and what we are willing to pay is directly related to what it’s worth to us, how we rate its value I guess you could say. I guess this is rather true both literally and figuratively as I once read a quote that said something like, “if it costs you your peace of mind then the price is too high” and I know that has nothing to do with dollars and cents…I suppose what I mean is that for some people having a luxury car with a monthly lease payment that costs a lot is “worth it,” because they value the prestige of driving a fancy vehicle or they really like all those bells and whistles, whereas somebody else might want a far less costly vehicle that they own outright after four years because the fancy/luxury factor is not worth it to that person who values practicality. Certainly both vehicles deliver each person from PointA to PointB, and their costs are not at all the same, but their worth IS the same to each person, because as I see it, as individuals, we all have a very different opinion about value.

When I built my small house I considered how much it costs to heat and cool a larger space, and the difference in what my materials costs were for things like lumber, sheetrock, plywood, nails, etc., well it all adds up for more square footage, and to me it was not worth the added expense to have a bigger home, whereas lots of people desire huge houses, often with rooms they don’t even use, or fully furnish, and to them the cost to heat and cool empty space is worth it to have a big house, it is something that they value. This is not to imply that one is better than the other in any way, it’s just totally subjective, worth and value, how we each justify all of the costs that make up living a life, how we determine what we will and won’t pay, and why, that you simply can’t really compare any scenarios at all.

How much something costs and what we feel it’s worth to us is as unique as our finger prints. For example my new yoga mat was recently delivered, and it COST so much more than any of my other mats that I already own, and so much more than the ones that they sell at Target or Dicks, but to me it was WORTH every penny because it is purple, with rainbow stripes and a mandala & personalized RSTAR!!! I value the joy that it brought me more than the practicality of just using the mats I already own. Also, I could very well do yoga for free, on my television with YouTube, but for me, the cost of a monthly membership to be in the studio, and the friendships I have made, and the ways that different teachers bring out different parts of me, and different classes make different parts of me stronger and longer, is worth the price. I value the experience…every single dollar that has anything to do with my yoga practice is worth it to me.

I think cost is what we pay for something and worth is the value we get from it. These might be totally wrong definitions, and I am not looking them up for clarification, but it’s something I think about a lot. Like my favorite chair; from the time I was a little girl I knew I wanted an authentic HermanMiller Eames chair and ottoman and it is the first piece of furniture I bought during construction, before I even moved in to this house I had ordered it, and to some, spending that kind of money on a chair and ottoman would be positively ridiculous, outlandish even, but to me the cost was worth every penny. EVERYthing has a price and EVERYthing has a value and it is up to each of us to make those choices every day as to the relationship between cost and worth. There are some silly little things too, for example I do not buy ‘no name brand’ aluminum foil. I have, in the past, tried lesser priced brands and I hate them, so I only buy Reynolds. I like Italian canned tuna packed in oil, which costs a lot more than the big brand cans, but I don’t care because for the number of times I eat canned tuna over a year, the cost of the kind I like best is worth it to me. Some people spend a lot of money every week on bottled water, but I have a well and I love my tap water and I never buy bottled water. Some people buy Advil and I buy the no name brand and the headache is eased as quickly for one quarter the price. EVERY day we make these kinds of cost-worth-value expressions and EVERY one is different for EVERY person.

This expression is not only applicable to material, tangible items…relationships have a cost and worth and value as well. I come from a deeply conservative family whose ideas and beliefs and thoughts on current events in general, and some people in the news in particular, are not in any sort of alignment or agreement with mine at all, in any way whatsoever. It literally makes my head ache (thank goodness for my UpandUp brand of ibuprofen) that we are so disconnected. We are on totally opposite sides of just about all the things. The divide between me and my family is mind-blowingly painful for me. The cost to me is too great to deal with any of it…it is not worth it, to me, to harm the relationships I have with my family, and so I do not talk about REALLY DEEPLY IMPORTANT issues, with any of them if I can help it. It is a very difficult part of my adult life, to feel such an insurmountable split between myself and my family, BUT it’s my reality, AND I have so many great friends and good acquaintances that I do not ever feel lonely or alone. I make the experience of having friends, and keeping friends, and cultivating those relationships, a VERY important part of my world, because I value, deeply, those interactions where I enjoy like-minded and open-minded people, and we connect on so many levels and we talk about really big things, and when we disagree it is discussed with sound reason, and facts and backed by reputable sources, so when I am wrong I admit it, and when my friends are wrong they admit it, and we move forward, both of us growing in knowledge. It’s meaningful discourse and makes me remember how much I loved being in college. Cultivating these great friendships keeps me sane when I don’t have family with whom I can talk about that which matters to me.

I keep my family in one part of my brain and my friends in another. I value the relationships I have with my family and so the cost to discuss most current events, most of the time, is simply not something I am willing to pay. I accept them as they are, and I accept that that is often incompatible with my growth and that’s okay…they in turn have to accept me where I am too… For as conservative as they are, it has a very much “Free to be you and me vibe” doesn’t it?? They taught me to work hard and not be in debt, they taught me how to keep house and build one, they have been the bank of mom and dad with low interest loans for all of my adult life, they helped me raise my child, they are generous and loving, and because they are a good family and good to me, I do not let divisive things divide us.

Cost and worth is a relationship that goes beyond cars or yoga mats or cans of tuna, it’s something we must reevaluate every day. Every day we make a choice. I choose to love my family and accept that the way that they think about most things is not at all the way that I think about most things and we all just have to accept it if we are going to choose to stay a loving family & I choose to buy aluminum foil that costs twice as much as other brands and pain medication that costs 1/4 of the name brands…choices choices choices…I go through the maths every day and every equation is different but it equals peace of mind and to me that is, at this time of my life, what I value the most.

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