December 28, 2018

Underestimating The Priceless


Yes, this post title is meant to be ironic. After all, how can you underestimate something if it is priceless. Yet, we do it all the time. I guess that is just part of the human condition. We are hard-wired to chase the shiny and ignore the mundane. We react to the new while downplaying the reliable. We want to move on even if where we are is completely satisfying.

With that in mind, let me put five words or concepts in front of you....things that I suggest are priceless but undervalued. Than, I ask you to react to the ones that resonate the most with you.

1) Silence. As rare as a TV newscast with only good news, the lack of noise is almost impossible to find anymore. Deep in the deepest forest you will hear an overhead airplane, a distant car engine, or birds chirping happily away. Inside your home you will hear the on/off cycling of the refrigerator, the bark of a neighbor's dog, or the ding of a cell phone text notification. Absolute silence is absolutely impossible for almost all of us.

I am referring to the silence of your mind, the lack of chatter bouncing around inside your head.  With effort, this type of quiet is still attainable. Silence from worry or striving, quiet from the judgments and reactions is so important to our overall stability. For some that means meditation. Others find a healing form of silence while hiking through nature. Quietly watching birds in your backyard or a goldfish in a tank can accomplish much. The desire it to still the "noise," real and mental, that fills our days. Silence from concern, silence from judgement, silence from worry is priceless. 


2) Commitment. Some might argue this is as rare as real silence. I'm not cynical enough to agree, but certainly, the concept of commitment has taken  some hits over the years. This is a pretty broad term. In this context I mean commitment to things and people. Commitment to being the best or achieving one's goals are important, but not where I am heading.

Commitment to something bigger than yourself is what I think is undervalued but priceless because then it is something that becomes a foundation, a dependable anchor in a rough world. Commitment in relationships, to always doing the absolute best for children and family. Commitment to doing more than giving lip service to the needs of the poor, hurting, and disadvantaged that are all around us. Commitment to your core principles, regardless of the cost. 


3) Your Word. Closely connected to commitment, there are few things more important than having your word be utterly dependable. You do what you promise to do. Family, friends, business associates, whomever, have trust that your word is every bit as reliable as a signed contract. 

If someone promises something substantial or important and then wiggles out of that pledge for personal gain or convenience, a priceless resource has been lost, or at least severely damaged. Your word is your bond. It is what makes you someone who can be counted upon. Never underestimate the importance of staying true to what you say.


4) Time. 
 "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  Frodo in Lord of the Rings
“How did it get so late so soon?”   Dr. Seuss
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”   Charles Darwin

The point is clear. Time is the one thing that every human has a finite amount of but uses as if the supply is endless. No amount of money, no success in business and life, no fame or notoriety, no system of calendars and to-do lists, can restore the priceless value of time once we underestimate its importance and squander it away.


5) Love. For something that should be at the center of our existence we certainly have a cavalier attitude toward love. We "love" our dog, our car, our house, our TV, our new hair style, our vacation in the Caribbean. 

That must mean there are different levels of love, or maybe our culture has cheapened the meaning of the word. We can think that being in love, falling in love, and loving another are the same; I'm pretty sure they are not. The first two are emotional or physical states caused by infatuation, romance, sex, and expectations. The last one is the state of carrying more for the well-being of another than yourself. It is setting your self, your ego aside when needed.  


I realize this might seem a little off target for a retirement blog, but, I don't think so. These five concepts or actions are very important parts of a satisfying retirement. They help define who you are and how others will interact with you. They are things that a life of joy usually contain. Setting a price on each is impossible. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to possess them.


14 comments:

  1. Great list. I think I would add Smiling/Laughing . There have been times when I broke into laughter and was shocked how foreign yet welcomed it felt. Smiling ( to yourself or especially at others) links closely to gratitude and the awareness of goodness all around.

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    1. Studies prove quite conclusively that laughter is very beneficial to your health. PLus, it is like a yawn: very contagious. Nice addition, Suebee.

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    2. I agree that smiling and laughing are so important in our lives! There's nothing more depressing than a grumpy curmudgeon who rarely even chuckles. We've known a few. Keeping a lively sense of humor can assuage so many issues.
      b

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  2. The need for silence really speaks to me. Being retired we eat out a fair amount. OMG, getting a restaurant with no music is completely impossible. I am overly sensitive to noise and it drives me nuts to hear it everywhere. Almost always loud pop/rock. Many times I ask to have it turned down. Sometimes it's done, sometimes not. And I have actually been told that the staff can't do anything about it because it's controlled at the corporate level. Really?

    Shopping in retail stores can be the same way. I wrote an email to Macy's because they were blaring some contemporary rock in the section that was basically for older women. I'm pretty sure few who shop that dept. wanted to hear it. I have a theory that there is some under thirty in charge of the whole world who is stunned we all don't want to hear their music 24/7. (Okay, that was just a joke, folks.) :D

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    1. Between the music and restaurant open spaces that seem to be designed to amplify all the voices, eating out is not the peaceful experience it once was. I understand completely your complaint about the universal belief that music is necessary in every setting. I am convinced that the choice of music is often to keep the staff happy, not the customers.

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    2. I read recently an article called: "It's not just you: Restaurants really are louder than they used to be"

      Of particular interest are these 2 statements:
      "There are studies that find that loud restaurants are more profitable," she said. "The louder the restaurant is, the more alcohol is consumed — kind of as a de-stressor."

      If restaurants are louder, it means diners don't stay too long, which means a higher turnover for restaurant owners.

      Link to article => https://www.cbc.ca/radio/day6/episode-418-when-gm-leaves-town-loud-restaurants-the-hit-series-dogs-mummers-china-surveillance-and-more-1.4927175/it-s-not-just-you-restaurants-really-are-louder-than-they-used-to-be-1.4927189

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  3. Silence has become more and more important to me as I age. Last year I tried my first silent retreat and loved it, so I recently signed up for another this spring.

    DDavidson's info re: restaurants is so interesting! We have noticed more and more new restaurants have industrial ceilings with no sound masking at all. They're virtually impossible places to carry on a conversation once they fill up. So even if the food is great, we often choose something else.

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    1. Add in several big screen TVs with sports (no sound but lots of visual stimulation) to all that noise - no wonder people drink more or don't linger.

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  4. I don't think you are off-target writing about these concepts. Some concepts are important regardless of the life stage. I think it's also important to have basic needs met - enough food, shelter, safety. Love would be included in that list of basic needs. When I'm not exposed to man-made sounds I am aware of the silence even when that includes nature sounds - wind, rain, running water, birds, etc. The most enveloping silence I ever experienced was while parasailing. So I guess some of these concepts are subjective. All of us are gifted with the same amount of time each day, yet some never have enough and for some, time weighs heavy. My experience has been that whatever time, money or space we have, we use up.

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    1. I am interested that several comments and follow ups refer to silence as a priceless part of our lives, especially since it is so hard to come by. You highlight an important point: there is man made noise but no man made silence. We have to expose ourselves to nature to experience a type of "noise" that is unavailable elsewhere. While never completely silent, that type of sound seems to calm and heal us. Even in my suburban backyard there are birds and a water fountain in season to give me something I cannot get in any other way.

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  5. Wow, Bob, this is one of my favorite posts ever on your blog. I loved this! And it fits perfectly with the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere (not that meaningful to you in the Southwest!). Winter is a time of stillness and silence, of waiting with an alert watchfulness, of releasing the busy-ness of other seasons and coming together in relationship to enjoy the fruits of the harvest. So wishing you and Betty a wonderful season of enjoying all of these priceless concepts.

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    1. In the desert Southwest our season of stillness and silence is more likely to be summertime. Everything moves inside, leaving a quiet environment outside. There are few things more peaceful than our time on the back porch shortly after sunrise but well before the heat of the day starts, from May to October.

      Regardless of where we live or what our seasons are like, stillness and waiting must be part of our life. Constant rushing about isn't healthy for our mind or body.

      I am so pleased you liked this post, Galen. The best to your family as we start afresh in 2019.

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  6. The only thing we have is time, and we can’t know how long we’ve got. My problem is, because I’m so acutely aware of the preciousness of time and its passing, I try to cram as much in as I can. I’m starting to become aware that that is not the solution.

    Jude

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    1. AS I age, I am finding peace and quiet are true blessings. At the same time I have begun listening to a lot of music each day, too. After 35 years in radio I was pretty much burned out on music. But, now, I find listening to old favorites as well as new artists and styles of music to be both stimulating and relaxing. It brings me peace.

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