What we value drives why we do what we do.
To put it differently, what we do is an expression of what we valued.
If you want to know what someone values, just watch their actions. Whatever they say they value doesn’t count if their actions show otherwise.
Very few, however, know what they really value. Fewer still know why they value or how they value. Fewer still know that there are many whys to value anything.
Imagine we were to take a random pick of experiences to observe what was valued. What would we see?
They stood looking at the painting. It was an original Renuat. The picture captured the sublime beauty of the mountain ranges. The hue of colours it captured seemed to make the sky blush at the touch of the mountains. The shades of green and blue from the forest and lake before the mountain had a calming influence.
“That’s 5 million dollars” he muttered.
“That is invaluable” she said.
He wondered where their measure of value came from as he stood observing the couple. Was it in from the soothing landscape it captured, the peace that it brought to the heart, that it was a Renaut, or that it provided bragging rights, or that someone was willing to exchange 5 million dollars for having it?
The bureaucrat and politician were visiting the “site”. That is how they referred to the magnificent mountain.
They looked at the site supervisor. They were annoyed that it was taking so long. Every day of delay cost them more, eroding their profit. The mountain range had to make way for the expressway.
They did not notice the majestic range that the mountain merged into. Nor did they notice its breath-taking splendour. The soothing colours of the trees in bloom escaped their attention. As did the joyous sound of the stream they stood in front of. They did not notice the sounds of the birds, they did not smell the fragrance of the flowers, leaves, and barks.
Did the mountain have a value in their existence? Did the streams that carried life from the mountains to the plains, merging with the river, and eventually with the sea have any value in its being? Did the life in the forest having found balance with it have any value in its being?
The mountain was not a Renaut. it provided no bragging rights, nor was someone was willing to exchange a few million dollars for letting it stand in their collection of objects of value.
The JCB revved up to start boring and excavating into the mountain. A few meters away were other JCBs preparing to do the same. In a few weeks there would no sign of the mountain. Only the existence of an expressway surrounded by expensive real estate valued in numbers that were too large to imagine but impossibly small to bring back the mountain and the life that thrived on it.
He looked at the politician and then at the bureaucrat and then the politician again. Then he looked at the line of the heavy equipment ready to bring down the breath-taking mountain with eyes filled with tears and heart full of sorrow. Where does value come from, he wondered.
They sat in the same room but there was not a word exchanged.
He looked at them with curiosity. They both appeared to be interesting people. The kind one would want to meet, converse, or even strike friendship with.
He had no idea that experience had thought them that a conversation, when it happened, should only be transactional. About what the other should do and more often not do. Any other territory was a land mine. Especially if there was an expression of values – integrity, respect, care, or dignity. While one of them cared about these values as the core to being, the other just could not see the relevance of these to the practice of life. They formed the conscience for one, driving acts that expressed compassion and care. For the other they did not even emerge in thought as every action was evaluated in its contribution to the wealth.
Where did the value of what they valued come from, he wondered?
They sat across a table. The computer in front of them. They were engrossed in an intense conversation. He could not hear what they were saying.
He was, however, struck with awe as he watched them. The interaction certainly did not appear to be of different persons but rather of a whole formed by some common purpose. They appeared like the parts of a whole, not independent entities driven by independent purposes. They were more like ballet dancers in a performance! Full of grace and unision!
How meaningful that must be, he wondered as he watched in joy.
They spoke softly. When one spoke, the other seemed to listen intently. As if in rhythm, their eyes seemed to meet before they switched the role of speaking and listening. Every time their eyes met, a short smile broke on their faces suggesting alignment, respect, and care for the other, perhaps even for the whole that they seemed to make up.
What do they value that makes this possible, he wondered? Is it possible that they value the whole they create for the common purposes that brought them together? Or do they value the meaningful interactions that result from their common purposes?
What you value determines what you do. It drives your choices. It is what drives your actions. What you experience is a result of what you value. And what you end up doing is an expression of what you value.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or institutions that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph