life worth

woody, life worth living

I’m in the process of buying some more life insurance.

I woke up this morning and thought, “man…they sure do ask a lot of personal questions when they are getting ready to sell you a policy…”

They ask a lot of questions when they’re getting ready to sell you a “lottery ticket” against your own existence.

They really do ask a lot of questions.

I hear other guys say stuff like, “I told my wife…I told her….hey, I’m worth more dead than I am alive!” when they get a life insurance policy.

That got me thinking about exactly “what is a life worth?”.

We’ve got our concept of “net worth”…add up the cars, the house, the land….anything we can “quantify”…anything we can pin down to a number…and we come up with a measure of value that somehow defines us.

That’s kind of weird, really….but it’s a measure that we can see and understand that doesn’t confuse us.  It’s cut and dried…it “is what it is”.  We can understand an idea that’s accepted worldwide (like a Visa card).

It’s the “low net worth” guys who usually say something like, “I’m worth more dead…”.

When you break it down…run the numbers and check the books….that may be true.

Sorry…it may be true.  Some of these guys are never going to have much money.  That’s just the way the “cookie crumbles”.

When you dig a little deeper, though, you start thinking about where real value comes from in a person’s life.

We sometimes suppose that our lives don’t have much meaning or impact out in the world.

We haven’t made the “big speech”….we haven’t cured cancer….written the “great American novel”…we haven’t done anything grand or important.

But we may have provided the one kindness that allows someone else to do another kindness that allows someone else to provide a kindness that allows someone else to rise up just far enough that they can get out of bed to get to the lab to find that cure for cancer.

A person’s net worth can be low…in the eyes of the world they may not count much in material terms…but their impact can be huge.

I have a friend who gave a morning watch talk when I was working at the camp up the road from where we now live.

It was a quiet morning…peaceful…and we walked into the “service” trying to support that quiet.  He was playing some soft music on a boom box…some solo piano music…and when we all got to our “chapel in the woods” and sat down on the benches, he threw a stone into the lake .

And then he started talking about ripples….how the single effort started something that when it moved outwards got bigger and bigger.

It was a good morning watch. It was a good way for all of us to start the day.

I think that the stone just wants to be in the lake.  I don’t think it expects that what it does really has much of an effect on anything around it.  It doesn’t look for ripples…it just looks for water.

We don’t see or understand the effect our lives have out in the world.

We can make a quiet, seemingly insubstantial gesture that ends up moving mountains.

It’s all about a mustard seed…another stone in the pond.

Now…do I need the 250,000 policy or should I spring for the 500,000 policy?


About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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