Some Thing, This Thing, Better

May I ask you a question? Will a $200,000 car make you 10x happier than a $20,000 car? Doubt it. Will something well made, somewhat more expensive than what you can get from China mean more to you? Maybe. For me, yes, but there is a limit to the pleasure derived from spending more. The benefits of money are limited, and the law of diminishing returns is in play.

The business of being productive works against the production of beauty. I can be told a million times to get busier (and I am !!) but I won’t really, because I can’t. I work harder than most people, and there is a limit to what I can pack in to a day. The business may suffer, but what can I do? The business will decide whether to keep me on or not. I have owned the business and I have worked for the business–what I do now. I went without to keep my employees. I came up short to people I hired and respected, but I never was ruthless in my response to scarcity. I was compassionate. I no longer own the business I work in. I work for someone. The bottom line rules because money matters. A lot. Really. The bottom line is weighted and finds the lowest common denominator, unfortunately. Whatever. I have earned the right to say that the bottom line is not the end of the line. It is not what matters most. I have lived and (figuratively) died, by this belief. I have no regrets. What is wondrous, frivolous, well made, evokes my better parts and draws me to excellence.

Let’s ask the question: Why is it that the pursuit of beauty and excellence in art matters more to me than making more money? This car, a1960 Belair, represents, at this moment, something better than a Kia, a Chevy, an Oldsmobuick. The photo of it and the making of the photo and the writing about it means as much to me as anything I can imagine in terms of work done.  I can’t tell you why, but that is my truth and it matters to me like oxygen matters to me. Whimsy in steel. Why not? I won’t be on my deathbed wishing I had busted my ass for the job harder and harder. I have the honor of whittling my way in to the lives of my patients. That is noble, honorable. The more and more money part? It does not matter. It does not make me happy, although I recognize that having the bills paid is a very good thing for which I am grateful. The pursuit of more money is not lined up with the pursuit of beauty and is less important to me. That’s what I want to know for sure in myself and teach my son. There is no higher bar for my values than that.

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