How to Buy What You Can't Buy

December 26, 2016 / Linus Lee

It's been nearly two years since I gathered a ragtag group of friends in a local coffee shop to start a website called Cafe Avant-Garde. Over the last two years, both from here and outside, I've learned more than I ever thought I would. And while I'd love to be reinvigorated to keep looking for writers and keep writing on this site, I also feel the need to move on and look for even bigger, even more exciting ways to try to make something of myself and make an impact on the world. So with this post, I'm closing down Cafe Avant-Garde. The site will be up for the 2017 calendar year, and then I'll do something with it (I don't know what yet). But when I do, and on where I go next, I'll try to keep you updated. In the meanwhile, thanks for reading. You made my year. And with that, here's my last post, on why I find it so important to keep writing, and help as many people write, and become better writers.

Everybody wants us to speak up.

But when we do, we get put down.

Speaking is hard. It takes guts.

But speaking seems like it's second nature to that comedian, or that news anchor, or that presenter, or Stephen Colbert. Damn you, Stephen Colbert.

Speech is a product offered by our society by allowing freedom in thought and liberty in expression, and we pay for it in the risk we incur by taking stances and standing for our thoughts. We pay for it in the words we write and the with people to whom we speak with some invisible sense of anonymous authority. We pay for it in the responsibility we take to educate the people around us about everything from that Pokémon Go technique to the intricacies of quantum superfluidity. Most recently, we pay for it with eternal records etched into the everlasting, vivid stream of voices we call the Web. World-wide and permanent.

Speech is the primary currency of life. When we argue for that margin of an extra dollar, when we give that pep talk for a class or a team, when we clench our sign on our right hand and an American flag on the left in the streets, when we reply to a Tweet or mark a ballot or click a link, we speak. Sometimes silently, sometimes loudly, sometimes with our voice, sometimes with our ink, we all speak.

But we spend our words as Kanye does his pennies through a downtown thrift shop, when in fact the most celebrated speakers in the world spend their syllables only as a single mother of two working two shifts a day spends her night's earnings.

The currency that is our words is simply indifferent to fame, wealth, race, or religion. But as a dollar loses its value the more we mint, words lose their power the more they are spoken.

Speaking is hard, because on top of our other problems, we need to strike the fine edge between speaking so much as to erase the value of our words and speaking so little as to let our voice die in the crowd. It's hard because, unbeknownst to us, we participate in this economy of words, and it's hard to spend our words well, perhaps even more than it is to spend our money well.

The currency of words won't necessarily get you a new car or a better home or a lower rent, but I think it gets you something less ephemeral and more dependable. The currency of words earns you trust and respect and friendship and love. And those are four things no money can buy.

And we should spend as such, with as much austerity and as much rapture as each thought deserves.


You have a beautiful voice. Please speak out and speak up. The best investments will carry you further than you imagined.

SHARE!

Share URL

Ctrl + C to copy

More from Et Cetera, etc.

How to Buy What You Can't Buy

December 26 / Linus L.

It's been nearly two years since I gathered a ragtag group of friends in a local coffee shop to start a website called Cafe Avant-Garde. Over the last two years, both from here and outside, I've learned more than I ever thought I would. And while I'd love to be reinvigorated to keep looking for writers and keep writing on this site, I also feel the need to move on and look for even bigger, even more exciting ways to try to make something of myself and make an impact on the world. So with this post, I'm closing down Cafe Avant-Garde. The site will be up for the 2017 calendar year, and then I'll do something with it (I don't know yet). But when I do, and on where I go next, I'll try to keep you all updated. In the meanwhile, thanks for reading. You made my year. And with that, here's my last post, on why I find it so important to keep writing, and help as many people write, and become better writers.

Will to Belief

November 12 / Jongjin P.

The will to power is a concept founded by philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. He describes the will to power as the main driving force in humans - our intrinsic need for achievement, ambition, and striving to reach the top. In short, this concept describes our willingness to reach that “state of power.” Some may disagree as to whether or not this will to power is the main driving force in humans, but it cannot be denied that we are all determined to do something or to be in a certain position in life...

Imagining Reality

October 1 / Jongjin P.

In 2009, Toyota was forced to recall over 10 million vehicles and pay over $1 billion due to claims that their cars were uncontrollably accelerating. But it all started with this 911 call from a man driving a Lexus. The call is extremely harrowing. Mark Saylor, 45. We hear him not being able to stop his car with his family inside it. He struggles to hit the brakes as hard as he can, but the car won’t stop. Eventually, the car jumps off the cliff and crashes. The media went crazy, and thus Toyota was blamed for the faulty manufacturing of their vehicles. ABC News tried to recreate the sudden acceleration ...