Worth it?

What are you worth?

It’s not hypothetical or even a trick question, so go on. Answer it. What are you worth?

Confused? Let me elaborate.

I was recently confronted with this question while talking with a few friends I haven’t seen in awhile. It was one of those great conversations where one minute we were discussing how the tall, skinny guy who just walked by obviously didn’t have a girlfriend because no self-respecting girl would let her significant other leave the house in socks that high and shorts that small. Then suddenly the direction changed and we were busily discussing human worth in the global economy. Not a light subject, but discussed over a bowl of non-fat cheesecake frozen yogurt topped with strawberries, kiwis and cheesecake bites, it seemed doable.

The question of worth assumes a few things. First of all, it assumes there is a scale on which we can measure worth that is based in something else. Maybe it’s a monetary scale. How much are you worth in dollar signs? This seems to be the scale our American culture bases a great deal of worth on. I mean let’s be honest; a CEO does not have the same worth as a plumber (that is until you need a plumber, then their worth seems to increase dramatically.)

So maybe that’s it? Maybe we measure worth based on what your value is to me? You can do this for me, therefore I value you. Worth here is assuming that we base importance off of getting something that we need or want. And we all do that, be honest. It’s not a pretty trait, but it is a human one. None of us really want to be seen as that shallow but in reality, our selfish nature is incredibly tough to shake.

The more we sat and talked about it though, the clearer it became that perhaps we were approaching the question from the wrong angle. What if, and this seems crazy, we didn’t require people to earn their worth, but we allowed them to already be enough.

What’s that?

What if, a person was already priceless? What if we abandoned this flawed sliding scale of importance in favor of the idea that the things a person does and the money (or lack thereof) that they possess is in no way tied to their worth? By separating these ideas, we not only go counter-culture, but I think we can more clearly begin to understand the level of love we are supposed to have for people.

Think about it. If I already see you as priceless, then no amount of money is going to shake that. If I see you as a treasure, then even if you never do anything for me, you’re still a treasure. Because your worth was never tied to my happiness or what I can get from you. See this is where that selfishness creeps in again. We base others worth off what they do instead of who they are.

So maybe this is a new thought for you like it was for me, or it’s very possible I’m just late to the party and discovering something most people already think about and discuss. Either way, it rattled me a bit to realize how much consumerism and our culture affects every single area of our lives. And I think it’s important for us to take a minute and recognize the framework that’s been built around us and if need be, break it down in favor of something better.

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Regret Me Not

I don’t believe in regret.

Not that I don’t think people have them, on the contrary almost every person I’ve ever talked to has at least one. I simply don’t believe in having them. Put a different way, I don’t believe in giving the past that much power over your future.

A while ago I was hanging out with a friend at TGI Friday’s on a Thursday night, and as we sat at the bar, he was asking me how this works. How do I live this so-called “regret free” lifestyle? I told him it was simple really; just decide not to regret anything. His slightly puzzled stare over the jack and coke prompted me to elaborate a bit.

“I’m not saying I haven’t made any bad decisions, Lord knows I have and continue to do so on pretty much a daily basis, but I don’t believe in giving those decisions the power to rule my future…and maybe that’s not the smartest way to live, it’s probably not, but that’s where I’m at.”

Here’s the thing; I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of living in the mistakes of the past and it’s not pretty. My dad is so entirely wracked with guilt over mistakes he’s made that he is literally at a standstill in life. He won’t work. He won’t call. He won’t go visit the family. He won’t move out of his mom’s house. His marriage is falling apart. His children feel abandoned. Why? Because of the mountain of regret he’s buried under over how he ran and treated his family so many years ago.

So am I saying that regrets and mistakes can simply be ignored and let go? Yes and no. I would never be so arrogant as to say that the regrets people face are not real, that there aren’t things that could, would, and should be taken back in a second if that were possible.

But it is?

No.

No it’s not, it’s physically impossible for us to really take anything back. Actions can be made up for, apologies can be offered, wounds can heal and mistakes can be corrected. But all this takes place after the fact. The original damage has been done. And time doesn’t go backwards.

The musical Rent (yes I know it’s pretty much morally corrupt, yes I love it anyway) has a song that has a line that goes “there’s only here there’s only this, forget regret, or life is your to miss.” And while I may disagree with the deeper theological meaning of life being the only thing there is, I wholeheartedly agree that regret leads to missing out on life.

So how can all this be avoided? I honestly think acceptance is the key. Now before you write that off as some new-age hippie statement, hear me out. When you made this decision that now seems regrettable, remember at one time it was the decision you wanted. It may have seemed like the best decisions at the time, or the smartest, or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe you were going through a really tough time and made a stupid, regrettable decision. Maybe your heart was broken and you did something that went against your better judgment. Maybe someone hurt you and you lashed out.

It’s ok. You’re human.

Are you going to judge yourself by your mistakes or your victories? Is the past going to bind you so tightly that the future has no chance of breaking you out? In my opinion the mistakes are much better learning tools anyway, (and generally make for more interesting stories).

So let’s let it go. You’re not perfect, you never will be. Lord knows I never will be. And it’s ok. Your life is worth living free of the burden of regret. Trust me, it’s going to be a great adventure if you let it.

Embracing Alienation

It’s a startling moment when you realize that in life, you’re alone.

I’m not talking about the emo kid mantra “no one understands me! I’m so alone!” type of alone. I’m referring to that moment when you realize that the only person responsible for your life an decisions on this earth, is you.

Growing up the oldest of six kids, I was never alone as a child. No matter how badly I longed for some time to myself, for better or worse, family always surrounded me. And then suddenly, family gone. Jetting off to California. And of course I was so happy for them; also I was still in Florida.

And it was alright for a while, I had my dad and grandma, boyfriend and cousins. And then it happened again. Boom, boyfriend gone. Boom, dad checks out. And all of a sudden, I found myself more alone than I’ve ever been.

So the past few months have been spent trying to figure out how to embrace this newfound alienation. On those nights when I’m alone in my apartment and there’s a jar lid too tight to open so dinner turns to plan B, or when my door comes off its hinges and I have no one to call to fix it, or there’s a huge roach that I have to somehow muster the courage to crush, I can’t help but wonder what I’m supposed to be learning.

All I’ve come up with so far is this feeling of alienation can only push me to figure out who I am, what exactly I want from life, and what God’s plan for me is through all of this. I’ve definitely learned where my weaknesses lie, and areas where I need some definite work.

I’m a mess most of the time, to be honest I rarely ever answer my door fully clothed (ask my friends, it’s true.). I’ve forgotten to pay the electric bill and had to live what I call “hurricane style” (aka, no power for a day). I’ve messed up my car registration and been pulled over for having an expired license (thank God for big blue eyes that get you out of tickets). Long story short, I’m learning how to be a grown up. And it’s definitely a “learn from your mistakes” type of situation.

But I guess at the end of the day, to be learning is all I can really ask for. Learning to embrace the alienation and figure out this crazy, stupid thing called life.

Here she goes…

Alrighty well, here’s the new blog. I would absolutely love to say the last one was successful, but that would be a lie; fact is, I am perhaps the world’s worst blogger. Of course, I’m saying that in a blog post so who knows, maybe there’s hope for me yet.

So why now? Why a new blog?

I have a couple answers to those questions. Through the past, oh, year now I guess? I’ve gone through the toughest, most painful, feel like you’re a sailboat on the ocean during hurricane Katrina, actually looking to see if there’s a knife sticking out of your chest because that’s how it feels, moments of my entire life. And I would love to say things are looking up and getting better, but the truth is, I’m really not sure. And that’s the toughest part.

Uncertainty.

I can say with a passion that I hate it. I hate living in this sort of quasi-limbo, liquid state where at any moment something else could just drop out of the sky. But the more I think about it, the more I realize, that’s life. Certainty I think is a fallacy we construct to give us the feeling we have some control over life. It’s pretty comical when you think about how small we are, and yet how in control we sometimes feel.

But more on that later; for the moment I digress. What can you expect from this blog? Well, besides being the only other reader besides my mom who will read it (hi mom!), you can simply expect to hear my thoughts on this thing called life that we’re all trying to do to the best of our abilities. This is the place I can work out the thoughts that I hope to put into a book someday, assuming I’ll get eventually sort through my messes enough to put it all down on paper.

So for now I leave it to the blogosphere. Happy reading.