I’m writing this on the city bus as I make my way to the Arts Institute of Vancouver to meet my new financial adviser I had been checking my email when the cheap backup battery I had been running my phone on just suddenly died. No low-power warning, no shut-down sequence, it was just dead. This has happened a few times with this particular battery and it’s twin; I bought the two together from a China-based vendor I found on Ebay for only about $10. As I popped in one of the more solid (and pricier) batteries I brought with me just-in-case, a thought crossed my mind: “You get what you pay for.”
Everything in life has a cost, a give-and-take; we cannot escape this balance. In the case of my batteries, what I saved in money was paid for in sacrifice of quality. Another phrase comes to mind; “nothing in life is free.” This is true, there is always a cost for anything we want in our lives. Sometimes that cost is money, and that is the one we can measure and understand the easiest, but there are other “currencies” we use other than just forms of money.
Sometimes we pay in effort or energy; bodybuilders are a good, simple example of this. So is education; you want the good grades, so you exchange for those grades with working hard on projects and doing homework. Even just being employed is an example. You aren’t spending your money, you are spending effort and skill; your employer is spending his money in exchange for that effort and skill.
Another currency we expend is time, and it is one most people squander most and think of least. Time is often exchanged in fairly balanced proportion as effort; studying and homework take effort and time, not just effort and not just time. But time is the most valuable commodity we have, as it is a non-renewable resource. Effort can be regained with rest, money can be earned again and again; but you can never get back the time you spend on anything.
The universal truths of everything having a cost and getting what you pay the price for are not new concepts. They can be found in pretty much every society, every religion. To use Christianity as an example, there’s the Law if the Harvest – what you sow, so shall you reap. Wicca religion teaches a similar concept, and all 3 Wicca “magics” (white, grey, and dark) all use a “do this, that will happen” process. Buddhism teaches that by putting out selfishness into the universe you get pain as a return. Even in science: “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Now, before you science fanatics get in my grill about that not being what was meant, calm down. I know what this is originally referring to. Think about it, though; where in science can you find anything that just happens without some kind of catalyst starting it somehow? And how many of THOSE have no kind of “reaction” that has resulted from the initial event?
Everything we do and everything we want has a price. Everything. You want to be good at sports, you train. Want to be good at computers, you study and tinker. You want to be good at music, you rehearse. Want that big screen TV? You gotta spend that money. You want a long-lasting, healthy, happy relationship with someone, you have to make the effort and be willing to both compromise a little and sacrifice a little. You want to have a better life? Then do what it takes.