05 January 2012

An Important Thought

I often think of an old man who lives near us.  He lives in near poverty and is a curmudgeonly sort.  His livelihood is making doghouses.  We live in a very poor part of the country where there is little money for people houses, much less doghouses.  Yet this man insists on selling his doghouses for more than people around here can pay.

At one point I needed a doghouse.  Unaware of his prices, I went over to see him.  I told him how much I had.  I was five dollars short.  "My price is my price," he said, and slammed the door.

Now, when I drive by his house I see his yard crammed with doghouses.  His house is falling down.  His life is mired in poverty.  But he will not change his price.  He has established a value in his own mind and no one shares that value.  His life cannot go forward until he frees himself from his conviction that he cannot take a loss.  He will die surrounded by his doghouses, and they will be sold for five dollars apiece at a yard sale.

Learn from the old man.  He is fixated on the doghouses, not on what they will enable him to do.  Nothing should be worth more to you than its value in helping you live your life.  If you are willing to slough off the past, even at a loss, you are keeping yourself free, and your world continues to grow.  If you insist on holding to some abstract valuation, you are being held hostage by that possession, and you are trapped in a prison of your own device.

Kent Nerburn from Simple Truths

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