the value of a moment.

13145a99f1db93827395b3771f6dec89The “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:

43a249ae646861d34833a4a72c5ce26f 577d081575388f3990b9ddb13efcbe24 817a3bc367776306b48b2e01a1445fbd b7446679f35a464626e20bbc139397fe ba2da5073ba6c19c217199564fbe082b bfb554566e4f802bc05f7121620b9aec c3187b379d48d0d277d9394a549af800 c56478ece7801f97c6090881079742bb ca7e541df8b0ff91d1809df012e8eb11 cad267ce9c20b1aaaca16b7f11606526 ce0d9984a6f833d588e946c3afff064e f534a8cc562f4d06160110577cb0e911 fa463d2b715205bc14bb7a07d134c35b

 

Unadulterated Freedom of Speech in America

Last night I watched a DVD of the movie Margaret.  It’s about a girl having to deal with traumatic stress from causing an accident in which a stranger was killed.  The movie was mostly about the girl’s problems with or without the accident.  Not all of it though.  Maybe it’s because the movie takes place in NYC, but there just seemed to be a lot deep material, including political viewpoints.  One particular non-gloomy scene which stuck out at me was when the girl is in some kind of discussion or debate class and Terrorism becomes the focal point:

The main character, Lisa, gets into a heated argument with a Syrian-American student who chose to defend her Syrian family.  Lisa gets in a tizzy because the girl suggests that Americans are hypocrites and terrorists themselves.  The argument goes around the room until, finally, another student speaks up and says she thinks the Syrian student deserves an apology because she was only speaking her opinion.  Lisa seems appalled by the suggestion and continually fails to grasp any point-of-view but her own, thereby somewhat rationalizing the other’s student’s points.

One mentioning of this “US Policy in the Middle East” scene (http://www.justpressplay.net/reviews/9614-margaret.html) describes it with the following: “Lisa’s own confusion regarding the ultimate morality of her actions (i.e.  whether initiating a lawsuit will actually make anything better) is doubtlessly  meant to reflect the spiritual confusion that followed the century’s most  notable terrorist attack, but given how incompletely New York is evoked on a  visual level, the parallel is less effective than it might otherwise be.”

Morality.  What is good and what is bad.  How do we define morality?  This is the center of the argument in Margaret’s debate scene, reflecting Lisa’s constant confliction in defining what is the moral thing to do and what isn’t.  But morality is, for lack of a better word, merely an opinion.  It’s just an important opinion.  Whether we base it off of personal decision, experience, religion or other influence, our morals become the foundation under our feet as we move forward in life.  From this podium, we may voice our personal opinion – an opinion structure around these morals.  This is the American concept of Freedom of Speech.  But what happens when our structures differ so greatly?

As with Lisa failing to see how Americans entering the Middle East could draw hypocritical parallels to the terroism that drew us there, we fail to see another perspective through these enormous, underlying disparages.  When we are so bent on one opinion and one way of life, we close our minds to the true definition of Freedom of Speech, to the fact that it is a given right in America to preach things that might morally offend the rest of the world.  You have the right because you believe it.  It is morality, not the truth of the world.  It is belief, not the science that keeps the planet spinning.

This entire topic reminds me of my First Amendment debate class in sophomore year of college.  Our discussions would be arguments of whether or not, e.g., Nazis could demonstrate by peaceful marching down the streets of Beechwood (a heavily-Jewish community in Cleveland).  Our papers were briefs in which we had to write from either assigned perspectives of cases centered around the First Amendment.  It was interesting to see how this one Jewish girl in my class could not grasp how Nazis peacefully marching anywhere in Cleveland should not be allowed.  But the point comes right back to this: Opinion, beliefs, morals, and the right to peacefully demonstrate these things.

Perspectives aren’t right or wrong.  They might not agree with the majority, but they are not right or wrong.  Honestly, I feel like this is part of why I haven’t gone to law school, although I have to admit I initially looked at environmental law.  Now my focus has become Indian Reservations and rights.  But as long as it’s a constitutional battle, I do believe in what the Constitution holds, I agree to it and thus I still live here in this country accepting it without challenge, and I will continue to grit my teeth because I know allowing other opinions should not affect my safety whilst in this country.  Yes, there are Nazis who believe in a superior race, but how do we know that isn’t false?  (Harsh concepts, I know, but be fair.)  The same goes for the KKK.  For those radical church goers who picket everything under the sun.  I could go on forever, but let’s close this up…

My point is (going back to Margaret), Lisa, you’re wrong.  As an American taking advantage of American freedoms, you should apologize and realize that you’ve agreed to the full terms of Freedom of Speech.  You’ve agreed to accept that someone might think Americans are terrorists.  Christ, you’ve even agreed to accepting that someone felt 9/11 was justified because America is corrupt.  It’s the harsh reality and, while my personal beliefs and morals don’t line up with such “sadistic” concepts (that was an opinon there, did you see it?), it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

Suck it up, my friends, for to each, his own.