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The Price Of Everything

July 6, 2017

I have a friend who plays the piano really well. He would play for friends and even played in church. People would hear him play and say, "I wish I could play like that." 

"No you don't. It costs too much." 

My life has turned out differently than I thought it would. Oh sure, everyone's does. Well, just about everyone. I have a daughter that decided when she was twelve years old that she wanted to join the Army and become a veterinarian. She's now 22 and in her second year of grad school at Utah State University studying veterinary science. Oh, and she's a 1st lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves. But, for most people, life takes weird and unexpected turns.

I'm certainly not complaining. I'm not even sure what I wanted to be when I was twelve. But, I'm sure it wasn't a program manager for a large telecommunication company. But, I have a job I like and a family I love. Not the family I expected.

It's probably no surprise to any of my readers that I have a large family. I have thirteen children. Ten of them are adopted from all over the world. The oldest is twenty-seven and the youngest is fourteen. They are good kids and I love them all. Unfortunately, through a series of choices beyond my control, those 13 kids will never all be in the same room together. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is.

I was sitting in the Utah Fourth District Juvenile Court reflecting on the differences between what I thought my family would look like and what it does. I'll admit that I let myself indulge in a rare moment of melancholy. How much easier would it be if I could simply make the unhappy and unpleasant parts of my life go away. It wasn't my choices that put me here. Why do I have to go through these challenges? Why can't I simply have a life free of these complications?

In a moment of clarity I realized my answer. It's the price we pay. It's the price we pay for everything. My life, the life that I appreciate and enjoy was purchased at the cost of my previous experiences. In the Pixar movie Cars 2, the main character is Mater, a battered tow truck. At one point he has the option of having his dents removed. He insists that he wants to keep them.

"They are too valuable. I come by each one of 'em with my best friend. . .I don't fix these. I wanna remember these dents forever."

My current car with its damaged bumper fits that category. I could have fixed it. I chose not to because of cost. But, it's a reminder that the car was nose down in a creek at one point and now it's not. That's something to celebrate.

Do we value the hard experiences? Are we willing to acknowledge that it's the pain and suffering that help shape us? It's what makes me me. If I were to remove the horrific experiences I've had to endure over the past years, how much of me would I remove with it? Am I a better father for having been through that? Am I more thoughtful husband for having suffered anguish?

The Revolutionary War orator Thomas Paine said, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value." He was speaking about the cost of revolution, an event that we celebrate with a holiday on July 4th. He goes on to say, "Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strang indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated." Even as a country, we appreciate our freedom more knowing the cost that was paid in blood to bring it about and keep it a free country.

And yet, I can appreciate the rewards without reveling in the costs. No one goes looking for problems so that they can grow from experience of coming through them. That's the irony. We strive for comfort and yet, it's the struggle that lets us appreciate it when we have it.

My friend the paino player would become frustrated with people who claimed they wanted to play as well as he did. "Really? Do you really want to have spent thousands of hours practicing scales? Do you really want to have missed countless baseball games and the opportunity to hang out with friends because you had to practice? Do you really want to have endured dozens of recitals over the years? Is that what you are saying you wish you had? Because if you are saying you want to play as well as I do, that's what you are really saying you wish for."

Everything has a price. And the higher the price, the more valuable the thing.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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