Last night while Benjamin and I were enjoying a magnificent performance of Dvorak’s 7th Symphony by the MN Orchestra- the first installment of their Inside the Classics series this year- I found myself contemplating the cost of the experience. I should begin by disclosing that we were able to attend this concert at half of the normal ticket cost because I finally bit the bullet and joined Groupon. However, each ticket was still about $22, almost nothing for an acclaimed orchestra performance, but substantially more than Ben and I ordinarily spend on a weekend entertainment outing. Because we usually spend $0. We look for free shows at local bars, of which there are many, and only some of them worth seeing. This led me to wonder- how have I been unintentionally valuing quantity over quality? Is this something I really want to continue doing?
No offense to the bands that play free shows at local bars; I enormously appreciate having that option as an evening activity, planned or spur of the moment. Nonetheless, by valuing the ‘free’ rather than the performance itself, I have likely been missing out on countless opportunities to see stellar shows/theater performances/art shows/concerts. There is something to be said for actually committing to an event enough to spend a decent amount of money, something enormous even in the event that one is supporting a local artist or musician or non-profit by attending said event.
I have discovered that this ‘free/cheap = best’ mentality has flowed over into other facets of my life as well, namely going out to eat. As you may have noticed from several previous posts, I LOVE FOOD. I love the ingredients, the preparation, the community, the fellowship, and the sensations of eating. You would expect that as a result I would take advantage of the many fine dining establishments in the Twin Cities that highlight local, seasonal, and finely crafted fare (Lucia’s, The Craftsman, and Birchwood Cafe to name just a few). For the most part, sadly, you would be wrong. A combination of convenience and self-imposed frugality means that I eat out frequently, but not often at the pricier yet classier locales.
So here is my challenge to myself (and to anyone else who has noticed a quantity-over-quality mentality creeping into their decisions): do less, but do it well. Go to fewer shows and performances, eat out less often, but when I do both, do what I truly desire. Save my resources to go to the fancier restaurants I read rave reviews of in The Hot Dish, and for better known bands and unique performances and those beer festivals I’ve always drooled over. And in the meantime I will work toward a couple of my 2011 Practices to Enact, cooking, walking, writing and exploring the city I love.