Some of the most heavenly things in life come at a cost – who’d argue about the comfort of a penthouse suite in Manhattan, the delight of a Cartier ring on your finger, the exhilaration of a ride in a Lamborghini, or the enchantment of a meal at a palatial hotel in Udaipur?
Even so, I’d argue that the value of most material goods and services is intellectual, not real. To someone from another planet, for instance, an apartment is an apartment, no matter where on earth it is located, and a piece of furniture is a piece of furniture, no matter what its brand history. It is only once we understand what goes into its making do we begin to appreciate or aspire for a product or service. It’s all in the mind, a collective illusion created by our species to keep the economy going and ourselves busy.
There are some other heavenly things in life, though, that are indisputably valuable without any knowledge or study, without any comparison or doubt. These are all to do with feelings, nuances of the heart – ambiguities that can never be measured, forget price-tagged. You don’t need a degree to value the blessing of a parent; you don’t need research to relish the hug of your child. These are biological impulses, yes, and they can be enhanced with familiarity and age, but all the same, a lover’s touch is surely as pleasurable as a lover’s touch on any planet.
But of all the intangible joys that life has to offer – one that is neither biological nor intellectual – the most precious for me is the company of a good friend. We spend large chunks of our day at work and almost the entire weekend with our families (for those like me with kids), and so, taking even a few hours off from a weekly schedule to have an unscheduled coffee with a close friend is an unspeakable luxury. Here’s someone with whom you needn’t be anything else – there is no role required – but yourself. Here’s someone with whom you can spill your heart out without fear of doing it wrong. Here’s someone who will continue the same conversation the next time you meet, even if it’s years later on another continent. Here’s someone with whom there are no strings attached, no dance of egos, no power play of attraction, no desire to please, no need for niceties. It’s just the company of a friend. As simple as that.
Thankfully, the price of something does not determine its value – we all have equal access to life’s most priceless luxuries.