Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Is TRULY Valuable

What is the most valuable thing you own?
I suppose, a few months ago, most of us, in Ireland anyway, would have said, our homes.
For reasons which weren't quite clear to us, houses we bought four or five years ago - ordinary, small, terraced, Edwardian houses - doubled in value. Or more.
For some, talk of the value of their homes became a reason for hosting dinner parties, increasingly lavish dinner parties washed down with expensive wine which may, or may not, have been worth what was paid for it.

Our cars - mine is an exception - were or are valuable too. Many who made money bought cars which could not be driven, legally, at even half the speeds of which they were capable. Sports cars stuck in traffic jams.
Now, though, we've all begun to think.
For a start there are now 100,000 fewer people working. By the end of 2009, that figure will be 200,000. By this time next year, there will be more than 300,000 people in Ireland without work. Many of them will be the husbands of wives without work and the wives of husbands without work. Many will have bought their homes not long ago and watch them halve in value.
Suddenly, we realise that where we live is just bricks and mortar - and something for the bank to manipulate to make profit.
And cars are just for getting from A to B.
Suddenly, we realise that these things have no real value. A cost, yes. A value or a worth, no.
Because the most valuable things I have - and I own neither - are my family and my friends.
Spike Milligan once said: A Friend in need is a pain in the neck.
He probably wasn't wrong.
But in the tough year or years that lie ahead, family and friends will become increasingly important and valuable for us all.
And it won't necessarily be in a material sense. This recession will hit everybody bar those who got us into it - greedy bankers and inept politicians.
Family and friends will become valuable because, if you're lucky, they'll be there.
They'll listen. They'll support. They'll talk. They'll love.
And you won't get that from a house or a car.
You won't get anything back from your 'valuable assets'.
Family and friends are extraordinary things - if you have them.
And if you don't I can only pray that, at least, you find friendship somewhere.
The older I get, the more I come to appreciate how lucky I was with the parents I had and with the siblings I have.
I realise how lucky I am with my friends, some of whom have been friends for almost all my life.
And do you know what?
Times aren't easy and haven't been, what with bone marrow transplants, losing a good job because of my health and now a recession which will make it tough for all.
But the value of having a wonderful family and good friends, well, that's multiplied by a factor of 100 a times like this.
And the great thing is, it never, thank God, ever falls victim to the vagaries of economics or politics.
It just keeps on rising.

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