The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it – Henry David Thoreau
I don’t like the thought of having to pay a price for anything but of course we always pay in one way or another. People will nod their heads sagely (as in sage, a wise person) as they say ‘Yes, that’s the price you pay’. And of course they aren’t usually talking about money. Price, cost, charge – such negative connotations even though by the mere act of consciously deciding to part with something in order to get something else, you are appreciating the value of that purchase. Conscious is the important aspect here.
The kind of price I most fear paying most is the price of happiness, inner peace, sanity. I’ve lost all three at times it seemed and whatever it was that shook me; it was too high a price. I also value honesty, integrity and being able to sleep with myself at night which means of course that I probably miss out on a lot of ‘fun’.
How do we recognise the things that cost us in that way; that exact too high toll on our life; on our inner peace? Do we know ourselves well enough and the likely outcome of a certain action that we repeat in our lives until we learn the lesson? For a recovering alcoholic the price of a drink may be too high. It will likely cause inner turmoil and disappointment. For a battered wife who believes her husband is sorry and has changed this time, the price of keeping the home together when he regresses again is probably too high. She distrusts her ability to judge – herself or him. Do you know your values, and the price you pay to hang onto them? Are there situations where you wobble and can’t decide your course of action because you forget the price you will pay?
Henry talks about price as being ‘the amount of life’. How do we measure this amount of life? It’s unlikely to be in years. I could say I gave 15 years of my life to my ex husband! But that’s rubbish. I didn’t do any such thing – I lived and so did he during that time. We lived, loved and had a good time. No price paid there. Other ex partners might count that cost if they feel they ‘gave their best years’ as if being younger meant those years were better in some way. Most people I know love being the age they are; we are always at our wisest point with all the lessons we have learned along the way. Actually we are always at our youngest, most gorgeous point too. Tomorrow I will be older and a little more wrinkly so today is great! I’m the most gorgeous I will ever be. Enjoy it Emma. Life can just get better and better.
Anyway I digress. I think Henry isn’t referring to time. I think he is saying that the price of your decisions is the toll on your inner life. Value your self acceptance and the confidence to deal with what life throws at you. That’s worth hanging onto at any price.