Worth the wax?

Worth the Wax

“Is it worth the wax?”

In the days before electricity, avid readers would ask each other this peculiar question. “Is it worth the wax?” Anyone who has ever been caught up in a good book well into the time most people are asleep will relate. Before there were beside lamps and lights built into e-reader covers there were candles and lamps. If someone was going to read at night it was going to cost them the wax in their candle, hence the question, “Is it worth the wax?” If the book was good, it was worth the wax. If it was bad, save the wax for something more worthy.

A few years ago I was at a writers conference where Leonard Sweet was speaking. He told us this bit of historical trivia. And then he said something this struck me. He said that he believes that every book is worth the wax. He said no matter how poorly written, everyone has something to say that is worth hearing. You may need to plow through pages of pedantry, but the payoff is always there.

This week this phrase has been stuck in my mind, but not as it relates to books. I believe the same is true of people.

Everyone is worth the wax.

When is the last time you truly sat in a room with someone? I don’t mean you shared the same air, but that you shared the same conversations. Not just the same physical space, but the same mental space as well. When was the last time you intentionally expended wax on another person?

Let me take the question one-step further: when was the last time you had a conversation with someone you didn’t yet know? When was the last time you intentionally forged a new relationship?

A few years ago my wife and I were at a Valentines banquet. There was only one other couple there who were not card-carrying members of AARP. In fact, they looked to be about our age. We made a few comments to each other over the course of the evening and ended up sitting at their table for a while. It turned out they lived in our neighborhood, just a few houses down. It was the beginning of a long-term friendship that we still have to this day even though they have moved out of the neighborhood.

New relationships aren’t as easy as old ones. They take more wax to get going. But they are worth it.

Let me ask one more question, when was the last time you intentionally had a conversation with someone you didn’t like that well?

A strange thing happens when you get to know those people in your life that you don’t like that much. You tend to not like them less. I read a quote once that stuck with me (for the life of me I can’t find it): “The moment you discover where your enemy bleeds is the moment they cease to be your enemy.” Often I’ve found that the people who are most difficult in my life are facing extraordinary obstacles or pain that have shaped them into the person they are. Engaging with another persons struggle tends to melt frustration into a puddle of understanding.

Are there relationships in your life that you are intentionally expending wax on? Maybe there are relationships that you decided weren’t worth the wax. Maybe it’s time to stop ducking those calls or avoiding them in Walmart and have coffee.

Everyone is worth the wax.


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