I have a tendency to be rough on my hands. I like to garden, renovate old spaces, refurbish and/or build things. My hands bear the brunt of these labors and often become calloused and rough. Therefore, a few years back I got myself a really nice pair of work gloves. I used them occasionally, but not for the really dirty jobs. They were too nice and I didn’t want to destroy them.
My newest project includes stripping varnish that’s several decades old, from my open staircase and trying to sand out at least some of the dings and gouges. At first, I tried rubber gloves, but they kept getting holes in them; so I finally got out my good gloves. They protected my hands from the stripper and worked fantastic when using the steel wool and rough sand paper. But here was my dilemma; they started getting yucky and tattered from the process. I know it probably seems silly to worry about a pair of gloves, but I’ve always been so frugal I didn’t want to destroy them. Then I realized there is no value in the gloves if I think they are too valuable to use. When something is worn well it often becomes well worn. The gloves were a great blessing and though I will need to get a new pair they protected my hands and helped me accomplish my task of getting the stairs ready to stain.
In this light, I thought of other things I won’t use because I don’t want to wear them out. I also thought of things I’ve been given as keepsakes that collect dust. If I used them, eventually they would wear out and I would have to get rid of them. Again, do they have so much value that they become worthless? For example, I was given a really neat looking thermal soda can cooler from Australia. I would use it every now and again, but I don’t drink much soda, so I put it in a cupboard, protected but out of sight. Well, my coffee mug is eight years old and the rubber piece that went around the middle wore out and is now gone. So I thought, I’ll use the can cooler from Australia to give my mug some grip and then I can see and enjoy this gift every single day. But then it started to look worn, so I quit using it. Now I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to destroy the gift, but I don’t want to just put it back in the cupboard for the next twenty years either. Writing this blog made me choose and I decided, “It’s worn well, so it’s worth it to be well worn.” I will have much more enjoyment from using it than I would if it was just stuck up in my cupboard for safe keeping. Maybe, after I use it a while longer, I’ll find a place for it on a self.
It’s like when my daughter had to give up and throw away her first pair of “Toms”. She wore those shoes so much that they had holes clean through. It wasn’t that she couldn’t afford new ones; she has several pairs, in a variety of colors. There was just something special about that first pair. They held value beyond their comfort, but the reality is that they were well worn because they were worn well. It goes both ways.
Most things have value because of their purpose. The more we use them, the more we say they are worth it to us to have them. When their usefulness is done, we start with something new.
So is it worth having a keepsake that lasts a lifetime, but it’s literally never used or even seen – or is it better to use something to its max, find value and purpose in it and then move on? I will let you decide.
I’m the author of: Created to be Creative
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