The “value” of something these days is too often taken as monetary. There is such a thing as becoming too sentimental about something, but I see too much of the opposite. I hear kids whine about how “stupid” a learning activity is or how “lame” going to grandma’s is when they were just about to pass level 50 on their video game and were interrupted. (Won’t they see the value in those moments when they’re gone?) No one seems to enjoy “doing it by hand” anymore and, if they do, it’s because it’s trendy. They don’t see a gain in putting their time in. Time is money. Everything’s about money, about attaining that “easy life”. (Again, I think of Miranda Lambert’s song Automatic.) And because everything is made automatically by machines and with cheaper, lighter materials, we see more affordable items of lesser quality more readily available to, well, everyone.
There’s not as much value in something just because everyone needs to have it, and so a cheap solution is made up so that everyone can. Even iPhones and Instagram seem to make my photography less enjoyable when I feel like I could shoot a pretty good picture with just a phone, and everyone has an iPhone. It’s kind of like sugar, once a rare thing of high demand that suddenly was cheapened so it was available to everyone – and now we can’t get away from the damned stuff. I look back on the things stashed away in our barn that came from my grandparents’ house and I just see so many things that were actually authentic, metal, wood, not cheap plastic that just gets thrown out when it breaks.
Yesterday, I went to go look at a Starr upright piano that came with the house a lady bought and she doesn’t want it anymore. She’s had offers to scrap it, but she didn’t think that was the right thing to do – and I’m glad. The piano is absolutely beautiful, although it could use a little work – which I am definitely willing to do. It’s about 110 years old, completely original, and only one key doesn’t work well. I asked her why no one wants it. She just doesn’t play piano; everyone else, well it’s way too heavy and it’s not a Steinway. Starr only produced pianos between 1849 and 1949 out of Indianapolis. At it’s best times, 18,000 pianos were being made per year. Starr won some pretty prestigious awards in the 1890s which are displayed on painted decals across the piano. In my research, I’ve found that this piano has the potential of a $70,000 value – or at least it should. However, people struggle to get $10,000 for it considering how heavy it is. I see most sold for even less than that. This one? Free. But that’s because the cursed thing is made out of wood, wood, wood, metal, ropes, and wood. Lots of good quality wood. Much heavier than plastic and aluminum, and that’s why no one wants an old, not-Steinway, obsolete piano made of wood.
When I mentioned the piano to a friend, all he could see was the money value in it. Well, I see more value in giving it a life and letting it age further. It’s a piano, and I want it to be used as such – not scrapped for parts and fuel. This thing has some serious character. But so many people fail to appreciate character. They just see money, trendy, glamorous,… and they turn their noses up at the idea of having to put time in to move something like this piano, especially when it’s not already in mint condition. They don’t see the value and pride in time spent doing something with your hands. But what will they say in 100 years, when the Starr pianos have all been chopped up and burned away?? They’ll lament the “good ole days”, probably the same way they would have lamented a nice slab of buffalo meat had they actually pushed the buffaloes into extinction.
Ironically, I had these thoughts on the same day that I watched a movie with a similar theme. My friend had mentioned Creator, a 1985 film that I had never heard of but decided to check out anyway. It’s about this research professor who can’t get over the loss of his wife 30 years prior, so he’s hired a student to help him regrow her through a cloning process. During the course of the movie, the professor becomes transfixed with his project despite having a new woman around. The student, hoping to understand “The Big Picture”, falls in love with a girl who nearly dies. The professor sees this all play out and finally comes to term with the hard parts of life and how moments that are fleeting have value because they are fleeting, so sometimes you just have to let go of the ones that are gone. The juxtaposition of his dead love, possible future love, and the student’s fragile love really makes you see how you must identify and indulge in good things when they’re there because they won’t be for nearly as long as you’d hope.
And finally, it also occurred to me how frightening it would be if we really kept cheapening and devaluing everything in life. Machines are already replacing human labor. In some aspects, I want to see this as efficient and effective. In other aspects, it scares me. What is the need of a workforce at all if it can just be replaced? If, in the future, people are able to do what the professor tried to do and can grow whatever person they want…well then what is the value of a life anymore? Oh, sorry, I accidentally shot your friend…we’ll just grow a new one. ….It kind of reminds me of what I was saying before, when something breaks these days because it’s cheap and you can just replace it with another cheap thing. Maybe the “good ole” days are already gone, and now I’m just starting to see the value because it’s all just memories…
I feel like this has been a classic scatterbrain entry, so I will attempt to redeem myself with some photos from my Pinterest feed of little thoughts and little things that make up a happy life if you’re little enough to see them – so enjoy: