Month: September 2014

Worth as a sail

The wind and rain wrap ’round the sharp-edged leaves of the raspberry, bearing the bite of winter. If there were berries this season, I neither saw nor tasted them; the chipmunks grabbed them all with greedy paws.

It’s a melancholy sort of day, suffused in gray. And melancholy, too, for I am pondering my worth.

Worth is a heavy word, solidly Germanic. It comes from the Proto-Germanic werthaz, meaning “toward.” In fact, it’s the “ward” in toward. It’s believed to be descended from the Proto-Indo-European root wert, meaning to turn or wind.

Worth, in short, is directional.

It’s an odd thing to think, in a way. We are accustomed to viewing worth as a sack, filled with the things that make us worthy: beauty, intellect, wealth, skill. A deflated bag shows no worth; lack, instead, shows our inherent unworthiness, whether due to poverty, ugliness, clumsiness, need. It is this view of worth, the hoarding of goods and qualities, that allows us to devalue others; the name of the game is to have all the things, and the winner takes all.

But what if worth wasn’t a sack — but a sail?

What if worth was, instead, the direction in which you traveled? What you move toward. How the road winds beneath your feet. How you use the elements around you, the gifts and abilities you are given, to stay your course. The course, the direction, you set.

To quote Sochiro Honda, the Japanese industrialist who founded the company of the same name: “There is a Japanese proverb that literally goes ‘Raise the sail with your stronger hand,’ meaning you must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do.”

In a way, I think that’s worth: not an arbitrary collection of qualities and stuff shoved into a bag, but pursuing goals that your nature, your talents, your skills have equipped you to meet in that moment. Those talents and skills, even your nature, can change; your goals can change accordingly. The moment, too, is always in flux.

What is it you do now that fully expresses who you are? And if you cannot answer, what is it you can do? Then do it; that’s worth.

And with that, I will prove my worth by starting research for my Samhain-edition article for Henge Happenings.