I look around my workspace and I see a lot of worthless things…or at least they would appear to be that to anyone but me.
For instance, I have an old stuffed animal whose button eyes have fallen off. It’s dirty and looks like it belongs in the trash, but this is my beloved “Horsey”…a childhood friend and companion.
I have a rebel minié ball from the battle of Gettysburg… it’s far from unique, by all estimates, 7 million of these things were fired during that horrible 3-day battle. It’s a piece of history that reminds me of the foolishness, bravery and sacrifice of men. It breaks my heart and makes me wonder how an educated, cultural, and religious elite could find a way to justify and try to preserve slavery as a way of life.
I have the first dictionary I ever bought; and it still has the price inside, 49 cents. It reminds me of the power and beauty of words.
I have the New Testament and Psalms that I got from my Grandmother inscribed with the words ”To Brian Hobbs, September 20, 1960, From Grandma Aurelia.” I have a small-print version of the Bible given to me by my Granddaddy Meads in 1971. They are both mass-produced items with no monetary value, but for me, they are tokens of undying love.
I have a facsimile of a baseball card with Babe Ruth, totally worthless except for the fact that it was given to me by a friend who believed in me as a writer; a friend who later died due to an inoperable brain tumor.
I have a glass kitten that my Grandma Hobbs used to let me play with when I was a child. I would break it and she would glue it back together. She must have done this seven or eight times. It was made in Japan back in the days when “Made in Japan” was a joke. It’s totally worthless, and when I’m gone I’m sure my kids will throw it out and it will disappear. But to me, it is priceless. It’s like my “Rosebud”. Holding what is left of that glass kitten in my hand is like being transported back into the safety and serenity of my Grandma’s home.
I have a blue unicorn that was inside a clear plastic building block that I found somewhere when I was a child. For years it was my good luck charm. It’s a piece of worthless colored plastic…but it reminds me of the day I auditioned for All-State Band Clinic, and with that unicorn good luck charm in my pocket, I made first chair trombone in symphonic band.
I have a set of old business cards from 1979 that I had made when I moved to New York City. They have a cheesy picture of a grand piano and the words, BRIAN HOBBS, Composer-Lyricist, 222 W. 77th Street, New York, NY 10024, and I’m amazed that I had the audacity to refer to myself as a Composer-Lyricist at the age of 21.
All these things have no real intrinsic value to anyone except me. They are reminders of people, places and times that no longer exist: the me that was. They are distant stars in my own personal galaxy.
I’m sure we all have things like this; things that we are all tempted to discard, but I say hold on to them. Sometimes what seem to be worthless things are the greatest treasures we find in this life.