Reality shows with scripted drama and teenage soaps with impossibly beautiful people do not compare to the intrigue of a $30,000 find in an attic. The best place to experience this is by watching Antiques Roadshow. I guess I would be expected to watch Heroes or The Hills on a Monday night, but nothing is equal to the enjoyment I get from watching the appraisals of other people’s beloved items. Anything from furniture to tribal art is brought in by regular people who share the story and past of their memorabilia with specialists from across the country. I appreciate the simplicity of the show—just bring the item, and the story, and have it appraised by a knowledgeable professional. The best antiques discovered are those that people have neglected or bought for a bargain. It just goes to show that things are sometimes much more valuable than one thinks they are.
All of my friends find it humorous that I am even interested in Antiques Roadshow. My dad tells me that it is a show for old ladies. But it is so much more than that for me. I honestly believe in Antiques Roadshow. I like to learn the histories and origins and ponder the values of the items. I love analyzing the people. What I love the most is that people frequently do not care about the monetary value when it is revealed; what matters to them is the deeply intrinsic value. One would expect anybody who is told that his or her item is worth thousands of dollars to just find the nearest antique shop and sell it. I have observed that after the exciting shock, they realize that their valuable antique means more to them than just that amount scrolled across the bottom of the screen and often clutch it to their heart.
I may not own an antique, but I have something special that is my link to creativity and pleasure. I have discovered the infinite value of my beloved camera, the Canon Rebel XTI. Yes, it cost a pretty penny, but what I do with it is priceless. My photography can keep me entertained for hours. I become enriched in my ability to capture the beautiful world. I could technically sell my camera, but what I am unable to sell is my constant desire to have a camera strap around my neck. The desire may be ethereal, but the means to quench it exist. Even for a Biology class hike, my camera could not be left behind. A photograph I took of wild flowers became my favorite out of the thousands I have taken because of its artistic uniqueness. I can completely relate to all of those shocked participants of Antiques Roadshow because I know that what essentially matters is having it, not the money, but some piece of the beautiful past. Take away the Victorian Renaissance-revival mirror, the needlepoint map of Michigan, the European sword and pistol, the hand-crafted sailboat, or my Canon Rebel, and our lives would be poorer for it. What we really need is it, not its cash value in exchange.
Antiques Roadshow really is a show for old ladies. That is because they are the ones who have seen and experienced the most. The final years of their lives are surrounded by antiques that represent fond memories. Things may be worth more than what might be expected, but value is much more than just a number. When I grow old, I want to be surrounded by my photographs, the snapshots of a life well lived.