Value — of a nail

Step Up and Be Helpful: Full Moon in Virgo 2018 –KOSMIC MIND

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe, the foot was lost.

For want of a foot, the horse was lost.

For want of a horse, the rider was lost.

For want of a rider, the message was lost.

For want of a message, the company was lost.

For want of a company, the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horse shoe nail.

 

From this, as a young person, I concluded that the best way to make myself useful to the world might be to supply horse shoe nails, as it were.   That is, simple necessities that are needed all the time may not have flashy heroic regard paid to them, but they still count as part of the great net of how things function.

Also, to continue with the example of the nail,  there is method to be followed regarding the business of creating them, distributing them,  researching them…  The joy of finding which sorts of nail are strongest, do their duty best, are easiest to make in quantity, how to pound them in a thousand artistic ways?   Is there a dance of supply and demand in the dispatch of shipments of nails to where they are needed, a surplus to be earned from this service that is in sustainable balance?  How have nails changed over the ages; what is their history, can we find ancient nails and enshrine them in museums of nails?

As a young person I loved to make vessels. I made them from paper and fabric and ceramic.  Ceramic and glass especially intrigued me; there is an entire alchemical transformation of dug clay, mixed to a recipe, put into solution, dried and then kneaded and shaped into containers for all number of things, even the vacuity of the interior itself, made impermeable by fire, solids made molten and then cooled into a new state of beauty.  I loved making things that worked well and also expressed an ideal of utility and elegance that had previously been only in my own mind.

The problem was,  in our present civilization, we have an awful lot of things right at hand.  Mass production also can be a fount of excellent design.  There really was not much need for me to keep making more ceramic vessels because all around me were thousands of lovely, well-made, sturdy pots and cups and saucers and basins and on and on.  Frankly, by the time I was able to make similar items from scratch, to a satisfying level of excellence, factories would have belched out warehouses full of the same or better.  I guess it’s better to do the appreciating and the distributing of existing vessels.

So that is what I do mostly now.  I find lovely and serviceable vessels and collect them for a low price and put them for sale at antiques mall.  Of course, I’d be glad to keep them all for myself if I had a giant domicile with a dozen empty rooms, my own museum, but I don’t.  The antiques mall booth is that storage room, where now and then someone will see the beauty in the items that I did and adopt them.

But the rules of an antique mall decree that all items must have a price tag.  And here is my blind spot.  I cannot help thinking that all values such as these are arbitrary.  The best I can do is go online, see what similar items are selling for on ebay or etsy or the department store, and estimate from there.  There’s also depreciation for wear, which must be balanced by the thing’s rarity and demand for it.

One nice part of the booth is that I don’t have to interact with those who buy.  My experiences in sales as both buyer and seller are not pleasant.  Though I have read about the traditional ‘haggling’ culture and the back and forth, it’s so full of lies. People start out asking for too much, and offering too little, and tongue-wrestle the stranger they have probably never met before into folding to their will through taking less than they wanted to.  I was raised in a culture without haggling, and it makes me very unhappy to pretend I want something that I really don’t.

Once, I was in a tight spot, abandoned and pregnant, and I had to sell my big down comforter for food.  I put a free ad in a local paper and got an offer.  The person came to my home and began to offer me less and less money for it.  I was outraged!  I knew they wanted the comforter, but they seemed to think that my selling it for half its value was insufficient?  Finally I said sorry, but I absolutely cannot accept less than this amount.  And it was such a tiny amount too, but they had struck fear into me that they would not buy the thing and I would not have food.  It was disgusting to see the greedy joy on this person’s face when I was made to settle for a fraction of what I’d paid for it when new.

Obviously the whole point was to triumph in this manner, not to help me to live through my difficulty.  It left such a bad taste in my mouth I could hardly handle the cash I was given. It felt slimy.

The legends of the sidhe are full of people trapped into bargains, often when they didn’t even realize what was going on in the minds of these ‘other’ beings who think in their own ways.  Like the stock market, fairy gold melts away the next day into a pile of leaves.

Leaves are all very well to creatures that need them to live in, or to turn into mushroom food, but it wasn’t what you imagined at all, was it?

And what value do we give that long pin of iron or steel with one pointed end, known as a nail?  Sometimes, you just need one, and not a paper clip or a twist-tie or a staple or a screw.  The ‘good folk’ on the other hand would have no use for it ever, due to the material.  And while I might have a bucket full of nails at one place,  they might not be where I need a nail at any given moment.  Scarcity and demand are local.   The value of the horse shoe nail in the shoe, on the hoof, is far greater than the same nail all alone in the dirt of the road.

Sociologist Max Weber stated that ‘dirt is matter misplaced.’   The nail in the road is equal in value to the rest of the stones and dust in the road, as far as the road is concerned.  But if someone comes along, picks up the nail, and makes it into jewelry to ward off mischievous elves, or finds agates in the gravel and polishes them into gemstones (as we used to do when I was young), the value changes again.

Some people spend quite a lot of energy on putting things into different sorts of order, sometimes just to quantify, other times because certain things are needed more than other things, maybe on another continent.  Spice merchants will take the harvest of the plants of an Indonesian wayside and trade them for great amounts of gold or other currency on the other side of the ocean.

I don’t know what things are worth, except when I don’t have them and find I need them.

That’s why the prices are higher at the ‘convenience’ store.  Such small things as a nail or two can make all the difference, and so they are six times as dear to the desperate on a national holiday in the middle of the night in a storm.

The parents of Rapunzel sold her to a witch in exchange for her safe birth, when her mother craved a certain food during gestation, and the witch had some.   These otherworldly beings really bargain hard.   So what if you trade your cow for a handful of beans and they don’t grow?  What if they look like gold and the next day they look like a pile of dead leaves?

Luckily I have plenty of pots and cups and basins to hold them.

 

crazywisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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