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“Your life is an occassion.  Rise to it.”

So said Mr. Magorium to Mahoney in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporioum.  Mahoney was trying to understand her life, her contribution to the world, and the value of  it.  Value.  It’s an idea that’s been kicking around in my head for some time on many levels.  As in:

What’s the value of our labor?  How much value does our labor have compared to what it costs us?

What’s the value of how we raise our chickens on an ethical level? environmental level?  financial level? 

What’s the value of our lifestyle to our children?  our community?  Can that value in any way be shared?

And so on.  Even the “illegal immigration” question hinges so much on value.  The folks who are here illegally wouldn’t feel it was worth exploiting our good will if the folks who are exploiting their desire to work didn’t find it well worth the risk.  The “illegal” part has too much value for the politicians to tamper with it too much.  However, by buying locally and supporting “local fair trade” (it’s not just for Guatamalan coffee bean farmers) we can bypass the whole system and make it a moot point.  We sure appreciate those who help us out that way.

Value.  How much is something worth to you on any given plane?

Eric Patterson’s thoughts on his blog have rung true with us many times in this way: the value of what we do is as much (or more) in the satisfaction of creating something excellent for folks to enjoy and in the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of people we touch in the process.  It’s an intrinsic, intangible value. 

Granted, tangible value is very important.  Any of our peers would tell you that they aren’t interested in doing this great work for good will only. 

But the value that keeps us doing it is much more than that. 

It’s seeing our kids learn and use practical life skills.

It’s seeing other kids learn and use practical life skills, including the pleasure of a job well done–and done well.  Also including the pleasure of working harder than they thought they could and looking back at tangible results.

It includes snapshots like these.

It includes seeing a 13 year old and an 11 year old walk with the easy, self-confident stride that comes of accomplishment and strong bodies.

It includes hearing young voices brainstorming  job improvements or discussing their views on religion, politics, and their favorite music while busily cutting chickens or boards, as the job demands.

This is why we do what we do.

On a public radion program, Fresh Air, they were talking about walking through a terminal illness with someone and the discussions to have.  One question I thought was good at any time was, “What gives your life value?  What makes you feel like life is worth pressing on?”  Hmmm…..

So, I come back to that quote, “Your life is an occassion.”  What is it that gives this occassion value?

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