Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Quest for Value





I love antiquing and going to auctions. There's something in me that years for the treasure hunt. Even if I don't purchase something myself, I just like seeing what's out there... the odd, the unique, the rare. We were at an auction last night... probably one off the worst ones I've been too (but at least it was close by). I walked in and didn't see a single thing that I wanted, and yet we sat down and watched the bidding for a while. It got me to thinking about value.

What gives something value? Something that I would have passed up for a nickel at a yard sale, someone else was purchasing for hundreds of dollars. Or at another auction we were recently at, one church icon went for over $80,000 while others were going for only a few hundred. Perhaps its because I haven't done my research or know what that particular piece is or how rare it is, but I find it interesting how values can differ so much and how so often 'one person's trash is another's treasure'. Whats valuable to me may not be valuable to you and vice versa, and a child's drawing can be worth more to a parent than all the Picaso's in the world.

Value is such a complicated thing, there are thousands of books on the subject and even just a simple search in wikipedia shows how complex a topic it is and how many subjects it is a part of:

Value may refer to:
Value (ethics)
Value theory
Value (personal and cultural)
Value (economics)
Theory of value (economics)
Value investing
Value (marketing)
Value (mathematics)
Value (computer science)
Value (law)
Value (individual)
Value (semiotics)
Value (colorimetry)

I would probably have to study my whole life and still not understand everything there is to know about value. Its such an interesting concept that is woven into every moment of our lives, whether it be how we value our time (what we spend our hours doing), how we value our relationships, or spiritual life, or our material possessions. Our values or what we value is like the steering wheel that directs us. What we value, whether we think about it or not, often determines its direction. It reminds me of a discussion Alice has with the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland:

"Cheshire Puss, asked Alice. Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to go, said the Cat. I don't much care where, said Alice. Then it doesn't matter which way you go, said the Cat."

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