Friday, January 8, 2010


Today's word is an eager suggestion from a close friend of mine.

"Worth" is defined by as a preposition and a noun. The preposition "worth" has three meanings, while the noun "worth" has eight. I've picked two of the three preposition meanings of "worth", and three of the eight definitions of the noun "worth." The definitions of preposition "worth" are 1] good or important enough to justify (what is specified), and 2] Having property to the value or amount of. The definitions for the noun "worth" are 1] excellence of character or quality commanding esteem, 2] Usefulness or importance, to the world, to a person, or for a purpose, and 3] a quantity of something as to a specified value.

Of course this time I've taken it a little bit further and cracked open my favored thick, red thesaurus [ Webster's New World Thesaurus, printed in 1985 from Prentice Hall Press] and turned to page eight hundred an thirty-six. Here, along side of "worth" is "worthless", "worthlessness", "worthwhile", and "worthy."

Who determines the worth of anything? An American dollar is worth four quarters. Twenty of those quarters equals the worth of a five dollar bill. Two five dollar bills are worth a ten dollar bill. But as i find myself going through my wallet, I snub the five ones and reach for the five. But they're worth the same, right? What about what I purchased? Is that large coffee and a bagel really worth five dollars? Is that pack of cigarettes worth it to the woman behind me in line? Is that pack of cigarettes worth the lung cancer she may or may not have to suffer through in the later years of her life?

What about your friends? My friends are people I value above all else. I do hope yours are the same. But would I pay my friend ten dollars to be my friend? Maybe once, yes, because I believe in quality over quantity, and having the experiences I've had with them, I know that they really are my friends. True-blue, right to the end friends. I'd loan them ten dollars if they asked, which I suppose says that they're worthy of receiving a loan from me. But would I pay them ten dollars every week to be my friend? What about every day? Ten dollars every day for the month of September [Thirty days] is equal to three hundred dollars! And since I'm doing math, ten dollars every day for a full six months, (and to be precise I've picked the months January, February [not in leap year], March, April, May and June. That's thirty-one days, twenty-eight days, thirty-one days, thirty days, thirty one days, and another thirty days.) is one thousand eight hundred dollars ($1800) to be my friend. And now think, what about a friend who has been your friend for many, many years? Quickly doing the math, a girl I've known for the majority of my life, I'll say eighteen years, for her to be my friend (again, I'm not including leap years), I would have paid her sixty-five thousand, eight hundred and eighty dollars ($65880). Now, I love my friend very, very much. But I'm not entirely sure I'd pay her nearly sixty-six thousand dollars to be my friend. That's nearly a year and a half's worth of tuition at my college!

Would you put ten dollars worth of value to your best friend? What about your significant other? Are they worth ten dollars? Ten dollars a week? Ten dollars a day? What if that was doubled? Quadrupled? How much are your friends worth? And remember, this is just one friend. This could easily be multiplied by five, ten, or even twenty. If friends were marketable products, costing ten dollars initially, and then ten dollars every week after that; How many friends would you buy?

What about a significant other? Supposedly people share with their significant others a special part of them that they don't exactly share with their other friends. Significant others would at least be twenty dollars "off the shelf." And once again, I love my boyfriend very much, but, sorry sweetie! I wouldn't pay for you. (That's because you're invaluable to me! Now all together everyone, "awwwwww!") But I suppose that's the beauty of friendship. Unless you're an incredibly horrible person, you don't really have to "buy your friends".

What about worth to yourself? How much is, say your computer, worth to you? I know people who would sell their souls to the devil himself (and I'm not exaggerating) to keep their computers. What about your cell phone? I'm a victim of it too. I hate not having my phone on me at all time. What about you? How much are YOU worth to yourself? Are you worth sitting with that horrible boyfriend/girlfriend who makes you feel like you're no more than dog poop on the bottom of their shoe? Are you worth that two-carat, potentially ten to fifteen thousand dollar ring sitting on an eighteen carat gold setting on your ring finger? Are you worth the cheap imitation handbag meant to mimic a Chanel, or Gucci? Do you think you're worth the real thing? Is that Chanel purse really worth the eight-hundred dollars that you or someone you love paid for it? Is a painful divorce worth the twenty years of marriage, kids and home?

The friend who suggested this word to me later used it in a conversation we were having. They said they felt "worthy". Out of context it could mean anything, and I'm not the type to divulge personal conversations to the world, but the way "worthy" was used. . . all I could really think of was that the "worth" that was felt was "worthless". And only they will know why.

What worth do you put on the things around you? Maybe you wouldn't pay for a friend. In this society, we don't have to (thank goodness, or else I'd be in a world of debt!), but perhaps, what about life worth? Would you jump in front of a bus and push your best friend out of the way, thus ending your own life and saving theirs? What if it was your spouse? Mother? Father? Brother? Sister? Are their lives, their existences worth ending your own life? And would you do it for the sheer thought that you love them and care about them? Or would it be done so you could be proclaimed a hero? Or would you not do it at all? Would that mean that they are "worthless" to you? What if it was your child, and if you did so, you'd be leaving them an orphan?

"Worth" is a very funny word indeed. Not only does it look and sound funny (maybe that's because I've been saying it a lot and looking at it frequently), but it has a funny meaning. Who determines worth? Worth of money. Worth of friendship. Worth of loyalty. Worth of love. Love worth a fifteen thousand dollar ring, and a twenty-seven thousand dollar wedding plus a twelve thousand dollar honeymoon in the Florida Keys (and that's going small, mind you). Is that burger and fries you're eating really worth the advertised price of $2.99? Is it worth the ten miles or one hundred and fifty minutes you'd have to walk/jog to burn it off? Or is it worth the heart attack in five years while you're walking to the car to go and get your kids from soccer practice?

Do you determine "worth?" Do I? Does the government decide when it puts the equal weight of gold behind the paper that we use as currency everyday? What if there isn't enough gold? What if there is too much "paper?" (Yes, I'm aware this would equal a depression.) We take things for granted everyday. Job. Home. Friends. Love. Hate. But what if everything had a value to it? Would some people be "worth" more than others? What if you had to pay a small fee (not your time!) to keep your job and continue making money so you could spend it on wife, husband, children, home, etc?

To me? My friends and loved ones are worth everything. Without them, I feel like life would be quite "worthless". Maybe because I'm not a person built to be a solitary individual. I like people. I like the odd quirks and personalities. I like the variety of individuals, the dark and light within each person. My cat, Poe, is worth a lot to me. He's a darling little boy and a misbehaving little mischief maker, but I love him. School is worth a lot to me, as is my aspiration to become a novelist. Drama is "worthless" to me. Fighting over stupid issues is not "worth" my time, which I could be spending doing other things other than creating bad memories. Spiders are "worthless" to me. But that's only because the creepy critters scare the crud out of me! I consider star-gazing "worthwhile", much like I consider the time sitting on the couch and watching re-runs of Fantasy Factory with my boyfriend "worthwhile." I consider reading and writing "worthy" of my time and dedication.

Curiosity killed the cat, but the cat had nine lives, and I'm getting "curiouser and curiouser". What is "worth" a lot to you? What is "worthless?" What is "worthwhile"? Is it that hike up the mountain in the dark to see the sunrise? Is it that pack of cigarettes you've been trying to knock the habit of buying every day? Is it your best friend? Your mother? Your child? I'm curious. Please, tell me what's "worthy" to you.