Value – What does it mean to you?
Recently I was asked to tell my story in a Facebook group and share what drives me to want to see the world a better place. My immediate thought was ‘keeping the old skills’ alive but when I asked myself the reason behind it, it came down to value.
Today’s society seems to have forgotten the meaning. With all the crazy consumerism, throw away products and instant gratification, it seems that (for the majority) people don’t really value anything anymore. Would it seem fair to say that this way of being is a side effect that began with the industrial revolution?
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Oscar Wilde
In Viking times craft was highly valued. People understood the time, energy and craftsmanship that was involved in women weaving fabric and spinning wool, a blacksmith forging a sword, a woodworker turning a bowl or a leatherworker making a pair of shoes. All these items were necessities, not ‘nice to have’, and because of that they were appreciated, respected and valued.
Sometimes I wonder which of the crafts would have been more highly valued but I don’t think there is an answer. It’s a bit like those crazy questions the kids ask – “If you had to chop off your arm or your leg, which one would you choose?”. How can you compare the value of a cauldron to cook your food in to that of a bucket in which to carry your water, or a pair of shoes to keep your feet warm and dry to a pottery lantern that helps you see in the dark?
I like to look at the positive side and, as I see the world around me filled with (excuse me please but I can’t think of another word more fitting) – ‘crap’, I feel more determined to share the old skills and do my best to educate people about value. Even though I have brought my own children up to see the difference in something that’s mass produced and of lower quality to something handcrafted, unique and valuable, they still get caught up in wanting to wear Nikes or having the latest iwhatever because of peer pressure and what’s seen as valuable by others in the world today. Wouldn’t it be great if our children learnt the value of these things at school, rather than being taught things that they are probably never going to use?
But education doesn’t stop at school. Even doing our living history, some people fail to understand what it is that we are doing. They laugh, thinking that we’re just ‘playing dress up’. Only recently someone said to me, “Oh, I thought it was just a bunch of people who liked Viking stuff getting together to have a good time.” It’s SO much more than that. There’s a lot of research involved – finding out how and why certain things were made the way they were, seeing the different lifestyles of, say, a Viking who lived in Hedeby to one who lived in Orkney and the way their culture adapted over time. Everything I learn gives me more of an appreciation for life and makes me want to go back to that way of living. Imagine teaching our kids how to make the things we use on a daily basis rather than having it ‘magically’ appear from a can or seeing something arrive in the post that we have ordered on the internet.
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”. Albert Eintein
To me, everything is about value – the value we have for ourselves and what we choose to do with our time; the value we have for each other and what we are able to give, and the value we have for the world we live in.
Each of these values are reflected in what I do. I created The Happy Viking out of value for myself – following my passion and desire to be doing what I love. My value for others and what I am able to give is honoured by providing a service that people want and need, and an opportunity to experience satisfaction in learning a new skill. My value for the world we live in is reflected in my decision to make products that last and by educating people about the reasons for keeping the old skills alive.
If you would like more information about my workshops, demonstrations or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.