Don’t Trade Joy for Money

I’m listening to my daughter play a song on the piano this morning. Even though I’m a biased audience, it’s true, she plays it well. As I started thinking about all the practice we’ve endured over the last few weeks for her to learn how to play that song, I added up the hours. In total, she probably spent about ten hours learning to play that song. (That doesn’t account for the hours she spent learning how to find the right notes, read music, and master the fundamentals, but that equation could be measured as well.)

It just so happened that I was paying a couple of bills and looking at our household budget as she played her music. It was a nice backdrop, but it struck me suddenly for some reason that if she had spent that same ten hours making a respectable living at $20 per hour, she’d have made around $200 ($150 maybe after taxes).

I bet you can see where this is going by now. It’s not a simple equation really when you consider money buys food, shelter, and clothing. Money provides for needs and wants. However, I have to wonder, if given the choice at that start of her journey, would she have chosen to spend those same ten hours the way she did? Would the promise of a $200 paycheck have robbed her of the joy of knowing how to play a song (probably for the rest of her life)? Or would she have had the wisdom to know that some things are better than money?

So, I asked her that question. I asked her if I had told her when she first started learning to play the song that I would give her $200 for her time if she promised not to learn the song. Wouldn’t she rather have $200 so that she could buy something she wanted? Her response, quite sheepishly, was, “No, I think I’d rather know how to play the song if that’s okay.”

Certainly, it’s okay. It’s way more than okay!

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