About a year and a half ago, I remember crying myself silly in my room as a result of the dehydration, loneliness, and hate that fills a person after moving halfway across the country into the desert. In the midst of my sorrow, the familiar sound of the garage made me aware that my family was getting home. It was time to regain outward composure so that they did not witness my tears, my weakness.
My momma walked into the room minutes later. She noticed that I was drawing Spider-Man, my favorite form of catharsis, and nodded to herself before exiting. It struck me that something was different in the room. I turned around to see that my momma had left a plastic Deseret Industries bag by the door. Curiosity overcame my despondency and led me to find a yellowing record sleeve smiling up at me.
An energetic, uplifting, and hopeful version of classical music spilled from the tinny speakers. First went my fear, then my general anger at the world. Lovely syncopation and boggling uniquity, both consistent characteristics in all of Scott Joplin’s works, trickled like a pure, cold mountain stream through my soul. After listening to Side A, I eagerly spun the record over to Side B and continued to listen. I felt peace.
And it felt great.
I value my Scott Joplin record because it carried me through the biggest transition of my life. I value it because it was a gift from my momma, and a gift from my God. I value it because very few things can make me as happy as fast. I value this music because once every so often, I can’t work any more. I can’t get Spider-Man’s arm to look just right, I can’t get the conclusion to properly convey the thesis, or the infernal nail keeps bending under the pounding of my hammer. But then I turn up Scott Joplin’s “Easy Winners” and I am almost immediately inspired. His muscles need to be smaller, the conclusion should be construed differently, and my left hand can get the nail at a better angle.
Value is created through experience. If I did not have this experience with the Scott Joplin record, it would only have been worth 50 cents to me, as well as everyone else. People revere the guitar picks of Slash because they were used by one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Nobody would care much for the same guitar pick, but untouched by Slash.