For What You're Worth
Down at the Pub One Evening
“Self worth comes from one thing… thinking that you are worthy.”
So there I was again, at the corner pub, minding my own business as I do. It was a rainy, brisk and blowing evening. Still there were quite a few folk enjoying each other’s company. I was in no mood to go out until I had to and since I was able to take a nice long nap this afternoon, I was wide awake and observing all that was going on around me.
At the brass rail was a woman about Christina’s age. She didn’t look very happy. She didn’t look sad, either. She just looked… well somewhere in between. She walked up still in her raincoat carrying her umbrella and was just standing there. Christina was checking stock and hadn’t noticed her. I spoke up a bit and Christina turned around and saw her.
“Oh hi! I’m sorry. I didn’t notice you come in. What’ll it be?”
“A Cosmopolitan… I think…”, she said in a sad way.
Christina gave her a strange look and asked, “Everything alright?”
The woman then took off her raincoat and sat down on a stool. Next to her was Glenn Crane, a local regular and a regional writer. The woman then said, ”Yeah… I guess… I mean if your life is meant to completely suck, then yeah, everything’s alright.”
As Christina began mixing what would become the pink drink she said, “It couldn’t be that bad, " she said and smiled at her. "After all you're alive and sitting here in a warm and dry pub on a cold and rainy night among folks who could easily be your friends.” She paused for a moment. “Oh, did you lose your job or a boyfriend or a family member? If you have, I’m sorry for my glib response.”
“Well, I still have my job as I work for myself. I’d have to have a boyfriend to lose a boyfriend. And while there are a couple of family members I wouldn’t mind if they passed on... no, no.. none of those things.”
Christina looked a bit confused. “So what is it that makes you think that your life sucks? Money problems? Social Problems? Are you ill?”
The woman smiled a bit. “As I said, I work for myself. I’m a graphic artist and do quite well. Because of that I have plenty of money. One could always have more, but I'm comfortable. I have plenty of friends. More than I need it seems at times. And I haven’t been this healthy ever in my life.” Christina gently placed the cocktail in front of her and the woman took a sip off of it and nodded in approval. “No my life just feels like it sucks and there is nothing I can do about it.”
“Life can’t suck as life is nothing more than a mere concept. In fact, if you subscribe to the philosopher Rene Descartes, nothing outside of your mind exists. That is to say that the only reason that you are here is because you think that you are.. here that is.”
Those words came from the usually silent Glenn. Most of the time he is quiet and does a his writing alone at the end of the bar while drinking his Stolis and Dr. Peppers. But when he does speak, I listen as I find something seemingly important to think about. I like the guy. He seems to have a cat-like soul.
“Excuse me?” The woman said turning to him.
He reached out his hand. “My name is Glenn.” He smiled at her as she took and gently shook his hand.
Christina then introduced him to her by saying, “This is Glenn Crane. He’s a writer and one of our best patrons.” To that he smiled at her.
“I’m Denise. Good to meet you… I think – er, no pun or joke intended.”
He laughed a little, then continued. “I was listening to you and our fine barkeep and was wondering myself what about your life ‘sucks’. After all, you seem to have a great job – do you like what you do?”
“Oh yes I do – otherwise I wouldn’t do it. “
“Right then. You have money. I can tell as you are dressed nicely and ordered a specialty drink. You are intelligent as I hear that you are well spoken. You seem to have the same relationship and family problems all of us do. You say that you are as healthy as never before and I will add that just looking at you I can tell that this seems to be a true statement. And at the risk of being bold, you are a very attractive woman with a smile that can warm a cabin in January and eyes that sparkle like the stars in the night sky. So exactly what part of your life ‘sucks’, as you claim. You have everything going for you!”
Both Christina and the woman were a bit stunned by his words. Finally, Denise uttered, “Well… I just feel like it does. That’s all.”
Glenn gave her a sideways glance. “Maybe it is not your life that you think sucks but maybe you think you suck.”
“What! I’ve known you all of thirty seconds and you are telling me that I suck?!?”
“No. I’ve said nothing of the kind. In fact what I said about you were very pleasant and complimentary things.”
“But you said that I suck.”
“No I didn’t. I suggested that maybe you think that you suck.” He paused for moment to let that soak in, then said, “The world sees you much differently than you see yourself.” He then softly smiled at her.
She was eyeing him this time. “Why would I think that I suck?”
Christina was listening to this conversation while filling the requests that Holly the part-time waitress was giving her. Holly caught on and was trying to catch up to what was going on. Christina made one of those hand motions that translated to ‘I’ll fill you in later’.
“I don’t know for certain, but I think you might be struggling with a ‘Self-Worth’ issue. Am I close?” He then took a slow and long sip off of his rocks glass followed by a sip of the Dr. Pepper and waited for her to reply.
Finally, after she look at herself in the mirror behind the bar, she said. “Yeah… that just might be it. I feel like I’m just going through the motions and that I’m not getting anywhere.” She took a sip off of her Cosmo, then turned to him.
“Where do you want to get to? That is, who do you want to be?" he asked.
“I don’t really know.”
“Then maybe that shouldn’t be your focus. If you don’t feel like you are not going anywhere and you have no idea where you want to go, then you should focus on something else.” He took another sip off is rocks glass and chased it with the soft drink. “Let’s focus on what you think self-worth or worthiness is. What does it mean to you? What is Self-Worth?”
“The feeling that you have some value, I guess.”
“Okay. That’s good. But in what way is that value measured? An inch is an inch because everyone agreed that this much length (he held up his index finger and thumb) was going to be called an inch. Our money is nothing more than ink on paper, yet when we put a number on it like a one or five or ten or one hundred and add a few words that paper now has value. So how do we measure someone’s worth, or more importantly, how do we assess our own worth to ourselves? What measurement do we use? And maybe a better question might be, do we have to?”
Denise sat there staring at him in a thoughtful way. A look that asked him to continue.
“I read this book recently called Feeling Good by Dr. David Burn. It addresses depression and negative thought patterns for the most part, but in one chapter he talks about self-esteem and self-worth, He says that there are four different paths we can take to finding our self worth. The first path would be to acknowledge that the concept of self-worth is just that: an empty global concept. Not a real or tangible thing. So rather than seek out self-worth, seek to have self- respect. And the way to achieve that is to aim for satisfaction, or rather self satisfaction – not in a narcissistic way but in the things that make feel satisfied at the end of the day. Look to find that in pleasure, sure, but also in learning more things, mastering a skill or talent or an art, communicate with others every day of your life. To be a part of the social experience and to enjoy others as much as you desire to enjoy yourself.”
“That sounds a bit hedonistic and self serving. You say that we aren’t born with any value when I was raised that we all have value and someone went as far as to die for my shortcomings and sins.” She seemed a bit bothered at what was just expressed to her.
Glenn smiled at her. “Like I said, there are four paths and that was just one of them. The second addresses just what you have said and that is that everyone has a unit of value. It is equal through and through. From the grandma that makes Key Lime pies for her family to the little boy who throws rocks through the glass windows of a vacant warehouse. That unit of measurement is exactly equal for the both of them. It can never change nor can it ever be taken away.”
“That’s a lot like the first path, but maybe just a flip side of the coin, isn’t it?”
“It sure is, m’dear. So those two concepts basically say the same thing. Just one says that the value is equal to zero and the latter says that it is equal to one hundred. It’s just that everyone value is exactly the same. No one greater and no one lesser. It all depends on what we do with that value.”
Christina chimed in, “So if we are all the same, and I feel good about me, shouldn’t she feel good about herself and not think that she sucks?”
Denise took another drink off her glass and said, “Yeah. Why does she feel that her life is good and I feel that mine… well not so much?”
“Negative thoughts, ladies. Negative thoughts.” He pause, collecting his next statement and while doing so had another round off of this glasses. “You see, we as a species seem to dwell on the negative parts of ourselves on a regular basis. And opportunists make money off of that fact. Diet pills and plans. Cosmetic surgery. Health clubs and foods. Self help books and religious and/or spiritual tomes on the way to be at peace with ones self. All this adds up to a multi-billion dollar industry that most find in the end to feel just as empty if not more than before they started. And why is this? Negative thoughts.”
“Like what negative thoughts?” Denise was looking skeptical.
“Like you saying that your life sucks or even that you suck. Those are negative thoughts. We all will from time to time call ourselves names of disapproval when we really have done something that was boneheaded. And that is fine as long as we let go of that brief image and not apply it to every aspect of how we see ourselves. You see, the third path is all about stopping the self-persecuting thoughts that we attack ourselves with. Too often we send a barrage of negative thoughts about ourselves to ourselves. Some say that this is done on the sub-conscience level at the rate of 20,000 times a day. And sad but true, it is doubtful that we ever learn to stop them completely.”
In unison, Christina, Denise and Holly said, “Really!?!”
“That’s what’s believed. And because of these horrible and damaging thoughts and images of ourselves, we become convinced that this is who we are. When that would be the furthest from the truth. But we can fight back if we choose the third path to self–esteem and self-worth. By listening to the prominent negative thought of the day, and fighting back by telling it that it is not true, you get the almost immediate effect of jubilation and more inner peace. Just keep saying, ‘I don’t suck’ whenever that thought races through your mind and after a while, you’ll never believe it again and then you won’t suck as it seems. Bear in mind, you may never rid yourself of these negative thoughts, but by combating them and denouncing them as fiction will allow the more positive thoughts free to dwell in your mind. In this case, the object is to understand that you cannot control the river’s flow, but can keep from building a dam in it.”
“That sounds like a lot of work.” She said taking a sip this time off the cocktail glass.
“It can be. It all depends how many of those negative thoughts you listen to and buy into.”
“So that’s three paths. What’s the fourth?”
“That path would be when you realize that self-worth is a unit of measure you decide what you are worth. When you feel like you are worth something, you start treating yourself like you are a beloved friend, a V.I.P., someone who matters to you. You realize and acknowledge your positive attributes and do so without vanity or false humility or validation from anyone else. Your sense of inferiority and self-depreciation will give way to a healthy attitude about you – the one and only Denise like you on this planet of over seven-billion. By doing this, or any of the other three paths or any combination of them will make a difference in how you view and appreciate yourself. And when you think about it, without you in your life, no one else would matter. Right?”
As he finished his vodka and sipped a bit more of his soda. Denise (and Christina and Holly for that fact) seemed to be taking in all that he had said in such a short time. He then began his ritual of gathering his notebooks and such. Basically getting his things together to leave.
“Hey, thanks. You’ve made me feel better and given me a lot think about” she offered. Then after a brief pause asked, “You’re not leaving so soon are you? I mean, do you have to get home to someone or something like that?”
He stopped, looked at her and smiled. “I was thinking about going, but there is no one I have to go home to, save for my cat and she doesn’t mind when I come home.”
“Then can buy another round for us?”
He put his things down in a neat pile. “That would be wonderful.”
Christina and Holly beamed at each other. Glenn had always come in alone and left alone. It’s not that he is offensive in his looks or actions. Just not the right person had sat next to him… until tonight.
“So you’re a writer? What do you write?”
“Oh, just tales and bromides for the mind…” he started. The two ended up leaving together a few hours later.
After Christina closed down the pub I went out for a walk. By that time the rain had stopped and the wind had died down. I like it after a storm rolls through. Everything seems so fresh and clean. I was thinking about what my buddy Glenn had said to Denise. I’ve never really had a problem with self-worth or self-esteem, but I’ve seen many who have. I find it amazing that a concept like self worth can ruin a person right down to their soul, when all it takes is to like yourself.
How to Properly Make a Cosmopolitan
You will need:
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) vodka
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) triple sec
- 3/4 ounce (1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons) cranberry juice
- 1/4 to 1/2 ounce (1 1/2 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons) fresh lime juice
- 1 2-inch orange peel/twist
How to prepare:
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice. (We like the extra bite of extra lime juice, so we use 1/2 an ounce in our cosmopolitan cocktails. However, use what is best for your taste).
- Shake the cocktail shaker for about 30 seconds until well chilled. Then, strain into a martini glass.
- Garnish with orange peel/twist. For an extra burst of flavor, peel the orange twist over the filled cocktail glass. This way, the orange oils spray into the glass.