On Value/Life

Mike Wayne
5 min readAug 8, 2021


35mm film photograph of pack mules in the Khumbu Valley, Nepal circa 2015.

Life appeared to be related to value. There was an understanding of the continued efforts to sustain and take care of yourself, to continue your embodied existence.

In society the self was seen and be came part of something else. Here was service and work. Without something to trade, what was your value?

Maybe we got it mixed up. The selling of ourselves on a market didn’t seem like something to measure, but sure enough, what is measured becomes important. To revalue life required new metrics, and first, there had to be the letting go of the old measures.

It was impossible to grasp something with your hands full. The same is true for the mind, and maybe this was true of the greater collective of the milieu.

Society as a whole could let go of the need for some to have more and other’s less. Maybe this required letting go of the idea of fairness. To each their own and there was still the issue of the people who were willing to take more than they could handle as well as the issue of what to do when there was not enough. This is where the rules and customs of society play their part, assigning physical spaces and objects based on all sorts of clever and strange mechanisms. This could be all well and good, except it was not.

To start, the physical space dramatically affects the mental space. It does not have to be this way, but it is. In our culture, in our reality, without comfort and sanctuary, there can be no peace, and it’s hard to produce anything of real value from any other place.

Fear, frustration, loneliness, jealousy, discomfort, agitation, hatred, the products of these states resonate with the same. Often then, these things resonate the same in others, appearing to hold some essential truth: Compassion. Yes, I have suffered too, just like you. Works of great genius are valued for these reasons: the exposition and elucidation of shared suffering.

From a place of peace and content, the work takes on a different flavor altogether. It’s not that we cannot help wherever we are. The difference is the need. We can need to do things because we love them. We can also love to do things because we need them. The later is a corrupt form of love and ultimately devalues more than it values.

Now if we’re talking about money, all bets are off.

There is no correlation between money and value, at least when it comes to the soul’s purpose. Here the culture of the times is in control and each individual does their best to bring in the means to support their needs & desires.

Lately it felt like the culture was failing most, but who was I to judge?

The culture was failing me.

Plenty of people appeared happy, and I couldn’t help but think they were faking it or wholly unaware of their impending doom. Maybe it would never come, but I still felt like they were missing something important. It was probably me missing something, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I felt unlovable and maybe it was because I could not love anymore, or maybe I never could. They didn’t teach it in school and the streets never gave me too much smarts.

I spent much time listening to people’s stories, hoping they would provide a clue. Trying to solve a personal mystery for everyone. This desire, unwavering was my driving force. The only thing I valued was my ability to make sense of the conundrum of life itself.

I wondered whether it was like this for everyone to some degree.

Most seemed happy simply to work on their own life, playing their role in a way that kept them as happy as possible. I had heard countless explanations for how to maintain and get through life, and none satisfied for very long.

The things I valued, it seemed romantic to make them the most important thing. I felt my privilege play a large role in my ability to focus on exploring my inner experience and figuring out how to share it. Yes, I wanted validation and to be witnessed, but more so, under it, I wanted to help. To say: It’s like this, so calm down, ease into life as it is. You’ll get there. Ups and downs will come. There is no true story. There is only progressive understanding. See how the mind you sow today grows into the garden of tomorrow.

But without feedback of the work, development, aspects of it, were in a vacuum. And there was no sense of value.

Acceptance from some group would help. A recognition of the work, otherwise it was all self centered journaling. Inorganistic masterbation. Not much seemed otherwise.

I hadn’t met anyone who loved purely, so I was lost as to why this was my goal. I’d read about it, but I’d read a lot of nonsense too. I really felt smarter, greater than most. Maybe, or at least I was more willing to go there. That was it. I was more willing than most to explore on record. To put into the world what it was like to exist. I was willing to be wrong in order to do something right.

10 years in, I’d sacrificed more than I would ever know to be this way. To hunt for something to say. There was satisfaction recording the process. Satisfaction in making known the experience. Then there was the emptiness and feeling like it was a creation uncalled for. A work without pay.

The game was in attention. I know this more than most. Our attention is the whole thing. What we attend to becomes what’s important. Value in society is determined by how much attention is given. If you can gain attention, you can sell some of that away, and people will pay you for it. This is advertisement. This is influencing. This is monetary support for your dreams at the expense of someone else’s.

I was confused about how to live my dreams and have it not be about me. I wanted so badly for it to be of value to you and your life. I wanted to lay bare my experience in hope yours could mean more. This seemed ridiculous. This seemed utterly obnoxious and self-absorbed. This seemed like I should be buying a six-pack and finding a friend to comraderize with or else just paying for therapy. There was nothing romantic about being unemployed and preparing another manuscript.

They say people without careers just don’t want to to work, and this was as much true as it was false.

I had to admit, any conventional career seemed wholly off the table at this point, regardless of personal consequence. But to say I wasn’t working was just as much nonsense as my claim that it would all work out, if you just kept doing what you loved. At the end of the day, to survive, humans didn’t really need to make perfect sense, just enough dollars.



Mike Wayne

Harvard educated, New York based revolutionary Mike Wayne continues to sow seeds within the field of necessary illusions. Go to: https://diaryofananarchist.com