What Makes a Thing Precious?

[thoughts from  ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

… and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious

—Lisel Mueller, from “In Passing,” Alive Together: New and Selected Poems. (LSU Press; First Edition edition October 1, 1996)

Thinking about that quote from Charles on “The Vale of Soul Making” blog…

          A thing can be longed for, can be thought of as precious, but until it is lived for; deeply sacrificed for; even bled for (or killed for) and finally hopelessly lost, that thing can never be accurately described as precious: it remains an illusion, a story in a book of fiction.  However good the fiction is, it is still fiction.  The book isn’t purchased, it isn’t owned, it is merely borrowed from a library. 

          In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and later in “The Lord of the Ring” there appears a character called Gollum.  Gollum possesses a ring which he calls “his Precious” and is driven mad by it.  Gollum’s ring was indeed his precious because he had paid a great and terrible price to attain it.  Back in the ancient days when he was still a normal being he was called Smeagol and he had an inseparable friend, Deagol.  It was Deagol who found the ring at the bottom of the river Anduin, but when Smeagol saw the ring his desire to possess it exceeded all bounds.  Deagol wouldn’ give up the ring, so Smeagol killed him for it.  Many long years later, the outcast Smeagol, now known as Gollum, lost his “Precious” to Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit.  Then did the ring truly become Gollum’s precious – he dedicated his life to finding the ring and getting his revenge on “the nasty Hobbit Baggins.”  In the end as we know, Gollum died with the ring: they both fell in the fire of Mount Doom.  Total commitment and total madness.

How many of life’s offerings can we call precious?  Of all the obvious: air, water and land from which we draw our sustenance and cannot live without, what about relationships?  I suppose for some people, some relationships become precious as they are engaged, then irretrievably and inconsolably lost.  But for most?   Relationships come and go, most easily, almost casually, replaceable.  The gregarious Earthian prefers its creature comforts of body and mind rather than the pining and dying that would make a relationship precious. 

I’m obviously fishing in deep waters here; let’s see what comes up.

2 thoughts on “What Makes a Thing Precious?

  1. Rosaliene Bacchus

    A thought-provoking post, Sha’Tara. As with so much in this Earthian life of ours, what is precious comes with much “pining and dying.” My two sons are my “Precious.” Raising them to adulthood stretched my limits of endurance and fortitude.

    On a much grander scale, Mother Earth should be our “Precious.” She gives us life. Makes possible all those “creature comforts of body and mind.” Yet, we take Her for granted.


  2. Sha'Tara Post author

    According to “the rule” of what makes a thing precious: the earth, despite the gross mistreatment, continues to harbour, feed and clothe, therefore isn’t precious. In Greg Bear’s “Forge of God” (science fiction) an alien machine civilization enters the solar system and begins to systematically “eat” moons and planets. Then it’s the earth’s turn. The earth only becomes precious to the few Earthian survivors rescued by another civilization just before the earth implodes and disappears forever. In Frank Herbert’s “The White Plague” – a virus which kills only females – women finally become precious when only a very few, hidden in special labs, or protected from the world deep in caves in inaccessible mountainous valleys, survive after the man-made plague is arrested. So it goes. This sort of psychological effect is a deep perversion within the Earthian psyche.



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