What is the difference between price and cost? I admire people who can understand numbers, crunch them with ease. I used to be good with numbers myself. There was a time when I could calculate GPA in my head. I paid that much attention to grades, and then something began to shatter inside me. I think it came from the time just after my father died. I went through a time of great confusion and grief. I couldn’t figure anything for about six months, and I couldn’t take tests. I got so deep inside my head I over thought everything. I came through it, eventually. But, it left a scar.
Here’s the thing. Money isn’t even paper anymore. So, costs are really time and energy, and an entirely different set of numbers, some quite mysterious, figure in every calculation. How much is a bottle of wine worth? How many hours am I willing to work in order to purchase a top notch computer? How much does it matter if the floor is clean, and how much does it matter that I get eight hours of good sleep?
The best thing in all the world is waking up in the morning feeling ready to put out rivers of work, to work like a horse, to generate like Verdi, to defy all numeric expectations. I’ve been listening to old albums I haven’t heard in years, and one of the songs I’ve fallen in love with all over again has a funny lyric. “I keep so busy praising my Jesus, keep so busy working for the Master…I ain’t got time to die.” I like the cheeky attitude in it. “Get out of my way, let me praise my Savior. GET OUT OF MY WAY!” See, that’s why I like to work. It makes me feel invincible, incalculable. Here I go with my praising.
I love watching a PBS show called Antiques Road Show. They show all these treasures of good old normal people. They give them these wild valuations for pieces of furniture and pottery and jewelry. The people on the show find some of these items in the TRASH. They purchase them at yard sales for a couple of bucks. Here’s my big secret. I would love to buy something like that, hit the jackpot of the big buy, but (even weirder) I would be almost as happy to sell the treasure for a dollar that was worth thousands. Being part of such a transaction would be a blast from either side. How does one figure that–value divided by expectation multiplied by satisfaction raised to the power of surprise. When I write a good story or poem, I’m trying to discover the secret algebra of genuine value–price and cost in perspective.