arts and values and math

I’ve been thinking about the things I love to do, how they’re a part of me, how I hate to professionalize them because I truly adore the state of being an amateur (from the French amor, which literally means “to love”, translated roughly “to do for the love of”) and how that has effected my squeamishness in asking for money for much of what I do.

I reject the diddly phrase “time is money” because the two things are light years from each other, actually. Money is a mathematical substance. You can always multiply and divide money. You can find money sitting around on a sidewalk. Someone can hand you money for no reason at all, or you can hand it to someone who needs it more than you.

Time? None of us can add a single hour to our lives. Not even the richest human has been allotted more days. We can buy babysitters and quiet spaces, but all we’ve done is shuffle around what we’re doing with our time; we can never actually purchase it. Getting paid for what I do is not a bad thing, but it runs the risk of cheapening it. I pour my heart into something and then slap a $10 price tag on it? Ick.

This is why The Arts have such a messed up value system; because art is a labor and expression of love, and money can’t buy you love. Love is always a gift. Money paid for art has to be a gift in return–a simple, “I know that this love cost you in physical form, so here is something that cost me physically to produce as well.”

There are so many investments we make in life–art is only one of them–that are tangible, valuable, and even virtuous, but can never be measured mathematically.