6/22/12: Weekend Imagination Igniters: Antiques Roadshow

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For most of us, the weekend is less agenda-driven and more relaxed than our usual weekday. You're more likely to slip into that state of relaxed alertness that psychologists call "alpha." That's when you're most likely to have creative thoughts. Here's a thought starter for those times.

My wife will be at the Antiques Roadshow this weekend. With hundreds of other people she will offer up items for appraisal by the experts. Some are just curious. Others hope for the shock of riches to cross their face.

"Really! I had no idea!"

I guess that would be nice, but as I watched and listened to family members discuss what they wanted the Roadshow experts to evaluate, I realized that nobody mentioned anything they would sell, no matter how valuable it turned out to be. Then I had another thought.

None of the really important things are "valuable" in a monetary sense. Downstairs, in the closet, is a framed note to my father from the poet Edwin Markham. It thanks dad for his service as Markham's secretary and wishes him well in life. The closing is gloriously Victorian, "Yours to command" in Markham's flowery script.

Its value for my father had nothing to do with dollars and cents. It hung in his office as a memento from a special time in his life. He was a poor, scholarship student then, stringing together jobs and a scholarship or two to get through college. He wouldn't even meet my mother for two more years. But he already had friends that would last a lifetime.

"When I look at that," he told me once, "I remember us the way we were, Beck and Bun and Hergy and me." They were friends then. They would be friends until they died.

What possible auction or insurance value could you put on a document like that?

What is there in your life like that?

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