The Meaning of Value

The Meaning of Value Cover Image

John York

July 18, 2023

Value or Values?

I don’t recall exactly what got me thinking about value, but it began a couple weeks ago. Maybe it was my daughter’s and grandchildren’s visit. It could have been one or more of the news stories about the current economic issues, or perhaps it was all the time I had to contemplate the cosmos during our recent cruise on the Upper Mississippi River.

Just recently, we transferred our retirement investment accounts to a local wealth management firm. It was that term, wealth, that prompted me to zero in on the meaning of value. When someone speaks to you about managing wealth, they’re talking about money—not necessarily coins and currency, but anything you own that can be valued by assigning an estimate of monetary worth.

In my May blog, I reflected on some of the things that constitute wealth, which I believe go well beyond money and possessions. In order to determine wealth by virtue of riches other than gold, however, one must spend time contemplating the value of those possessions.

Did you know that there is a thing called value theory? Yeah, it’s a study of how, why, and to what degree humans value things and whether the object or subject of valuing is a person, idea, object, or anything else. It even has a fancy name: axiology—the study of the nature of value. There are also several different methods for ordering values into a hierarchy. I’m flashing back to a time when I sat down with my employees to help them establish career objectives by defining and ordering the professional traits and experiences they considered valuable into one of those hierarchical models.

I don’t have to think about value in the context of a career anymore. Now, in my “August years”, I find it much more fulfilling to consider all the things that are valuable to me that I never seemed to have time to think about in the past. For example, I have an old John Deere hat that I value, but I’m pretty sure everyone else would throw it away if they happened to find it in their house. As I sit here thinking about all the “important” things I’ve accumulated over the years, I realize that they are only valuable to me.

Jayne Lisbeth, author of the excellent book Writing in Wet Cement, wrote about a similar topic, “Artifacts Of My Life”, in her June blog (, and I thought she summed it up very nicely. She wrote, “It’s up to my kids to go through the safety deposit boxes of our existences. They can clean out the detritus of our lives and hearts”. She has an eloquent way with words.

So, all those nostalgic keepsakes that remind me of my life will be relegated to my heirs and they will ultimately apply a new set of criteria to determine what’s valuable when I’m gone. In an effort to tip the scales in my favor, I sat my daughter and grandchildren down in my study while they were visiting and listed all of the things that I thought they should consider valuable, complete with the stories behind each item. To their credit, they feigned interest, demonstrated a modicum of enthusiasm, kept their cell phones in their pockets, and laughed at my funny stories. They’re so good to me.

The bottom line: valuable possessions are great to own, and money certainly makes life a little easier in many ways. But money can’t buy happiness, although it can buy wine, which kind of the same thing.  Just kidding. Family, love, health, friends, a good neighborhood, a sense of humor, a decent working brain, and much more: those are the real valuable things that make me feel wealthy. Giving some serious thought about those things in your life that are truly valuable is a very worthwhile endeavor. I highly recommend it.

Books Are Valuable

Okay, so I think it goes without saying that books are valuable, and I just happen to be preparing for an August release of my latest novel, The Five Watches: An Accident of Time.  For a mere $19.99 you could purchase a paperback version of this book, or, for a paltry $7.99, you could own the e-book version of this profound, action-packed story. Now, that’s what we call value—a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ as they say. I spent a lot of my valuable time writing this novel to be certain it was worth your valuable time reading it, and I’m confident that your ultimate evaluation of the story will be positive.

Think of it this way. Money is one of those tangible things that is given an ‘assigned’ value: a one-dollar bill equals one dollar of purchasing power (of course, to be accurate, you have to apply the ratio of the base index value to the yearly index value using the Consumer Price Index and subtract the rate of inflation). Whereas a book not only possesses a tangible monetary value based on its original price (and accounting for a reasonable depreciation of value over time and use), but it also possesses the inherent value of the human thoughts it contains—which may be priceless!

I’m sure most of you can see that a book, therefore, is an incredibly solid investment of significant value. Act now!

By the way, Jayne Lisbeth’s next book, Raising the Dead, will also be releasing in August. You still have time to purchase and read her current book, Writing in Wet Cement, before the new one is released! 

Oh, did I mention that you should also purchase my book? You can pre-order right now!

The Boot

On our recent cruise on the Upper Mississippi River, Paula and I stumbled upon a truly amazing object of immense value. Our last port of call was Red Wing, Wisconsin, where we discovered the “Largest Boot In The World”. That’s it in the picture for this month’s blog. Now, I think everybody can readily agree that this artifact is about as valuable as you can get, and yet there we were, standing right next to it. It was a life-changing experience.

Be good to each other – and READ A BOOK!