The other day I misplaced my wedding ring. Even though I knew Julie would be able to deal with it, I was quite concerned because of its one-of-a-kind value. Thirteen years ago it was made with a design etched into it to match the Celtic pattern that was on our wedding cake. (By the way, the wedding was scheduled to follow the Northern Meeting and the band season, to keep everyone happy and in-attendance. See recent poll.)
Fortunately, I found it later that day. I had inadvertently removed it when practicing and simply forgot to put it back on. I like to be ring- and watch-less when playing pipes or golf.
But I got to thinking, what if it were lost? What would it mean? The ring symbolizes my total commitment to my lovely wife, but would losing the it change anything? Does the ring itself add anything to that commitment? No, it wouldn’t; no, it doesn’t. But I still don’t want to be without it. (I did have to beat back hordes
hoards of women hitting on me that day, though.)
And what about medals and trophies? I know some people like to put all of their hardware on display. Others even have a trophy room. But most pipers and drummers I think don’t much care about the glittering symbolic prize. Receiving a trophy or medal is great, but it doesn’t change or validate the accomplishment one bit.
I do think that trophies and medals should be commensurate with the events that they symbolize. The more important the competition, the better the trophy should be – not so much in size, but in quality.
There are exceptions. The Clasp is very small and it and the Highland Society of London Gold Medals are not even real gold, apparently. That doesn’t matter. They are singular achievements with a truck-load of history behind them. A piper doesn’t need to wear or display a Clasp; everyone knows he’s won it anyway.
On the day, hardware prizes are important, but, after that, their most important function is to serve as a reminder of a great day and total commitment that has paid off.