Money Well Spent

20 10 2010

I cannot live with practical alone, my life needs poetry.    –    Lianne Raymond http://www.lianneraymond.com/bio.html

In America today, we are constantly reminded that times are tough, the economy is on the verge of collapse, that rainy day is right around the bend. Pundits and purveyors of financial snake-oil threaten us from every public medium with their apocalyptic vision of our disappearing wealth.  All roads lead to the demise of the American dream – America itself – UNLESS we adopt their particular saving/spending strategy.

Okay, I get it.  We are less prosperous as a society than we were some years ago.  There is a need to spend money carefully.  We should walk away from the super-sized consumption habits we adopted in decades past, just as fast as we walked away from leg warmers and parachute pants.  What I DON’T get is the how things are valued – what is fashionably “practical” today.

So, let’s examine “practical” expenditures – what are the necessities of life in our neighborhoods?  I have often heard the old (and never-disputed) saying, “Man does not live by bread alone.”  I like Ms Raymond’s elegant paraphrase even better.   I believe we harm ourselves and our society if we deny there are some things that are almost as essential as food, clothing, and shelter to keep us alive and healthy. 

Music, Art, Poetry, Literature, Dance

The absence of any of these would not cause physical death; however, what an erosion of humanity we would suffer for their loss.  Through the arts, we share what is inside each of us, what we cannot see or touch, but is as much a part of us as our bones and tissue.  The arts allow us to bridge a mental-physical communication gap that cannot be closed any other way. 

If the doomsday pundits are right, if times are growing meaner, we need to guard against becoming meaner ourselves.   If we are reduced to the simply physical, we accept ourselves as just animals.  It is the arts that raise mere existence into life. They reflect and magnify the beauty in the world. The arts are not luxuries.  We must support them because they surely sustain us.  

We can survive with practical, but with the arts, we can really live.

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3 responses

20 10 2010
H G Ettel

Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am and have been for having music as such a huge part of my life…and livelyhood!! It’s the arts that let a person convey their deepest, truest feelings that they might not otherwise reveal. We all know people who have made mix tapes (OK…CDs), found poems, or simply given a greeting card that said what they themselves could not…for whatever reason. It’s always gratifying to go to a music store to see all the young people just starting out, and how they can’t wait to show thier teacher what they’ve learned!! To see the seasoned player finding that perfect instrument so he might convey himself just a bit better. I even met a guy who was retired, and has now started to take guitar lessons, and sings Led Zepplin at Karaoke!! To lose the arts would be to lose our souls.

20 10 2010
Paul Grecian

Paula, what a great post! Very eloquently stated. But more than that, I know these are not just words to you, this is the way you live.

20 10 2010
wlg5011

Another fantastic post my friend. Like Hank, I am reminded to be grateful that music and the arts were such a big part of my life and education. Because music and the arts are the first school programs to be cut when money is tight, there is now an entire generation of kids who don’t know the wonder of learning to play an instrument, the joy of lifting their voice in song or the exhilaration of creating a piece of art that was inspired by what was inside of them. There are some things in life that you just can’t put a price on because the experiences are priceless.

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