I hear people say things like “ get your priorities in order” or “you have to know what is really important.”
And though may lead us to believe people are constantly ordering, categorizing and ranking items that are important to them in life, I don’t see such ideals being put into practice.
I see a person who says that their top priority is their family doing things that seems to jeopardize their relationship with their family. I see a person who says their job is supremely important to them dodging out of work early to play golf.
And in contrast I see people coming unglued about something that if asked about a week prior probably wouldn’t even list the thing their top ten of priorities in life. This is seen often at a fast food restaurants with a longer than normal waits. Suddenly the thing everyone values as they wait is their precious, precious time. Suddenly whatever they were going to do next after getting a hamburger was the most important thing they had to do…ever.
In the end we’re human and thus it seems, fickle. And due to this contrary nature what we value changes not on a daily basis but on a minute and second basis.
I have seen it in myself. I consider myself to have a strong work ethic. I value this about myself. “I always get my work done,” I think to myself as I diligently type on my computer. However, as 5:30 p.m. rolls around and my stomach starts to grumble for dinner, my resolve to finish my work starts too wane. Suddenly my priorities start to shift under my feet. I think “really my family is the most important thing to me, I should get home and spend time with my husband.” When I arrive home and my husband is doing something that is grating on my nerves, I decide what I value most is time to myself to pursue my writing. And after I reach the wall of writer’s block my priorities change again.
In the end what we value may be more gut than reason. And more fancy and whim than we like to admit.