We poor, simple humans, caught up in our mundane pursuit of happiness, too often forget what really keeps us going when we aren't having that very moment. We speak of the love of our pets, our children, of random special persons we meet in everyday life, but then the moment is gone and we're back to fighting traffic, paying the bills, worrying about the stability of our jobs.

We meet "the one", and we think 'this is it' and our lives are changed forever. But it isn't. Even if your "love life" is reasonably good, all the other stuff takes over far more often than that flush of romance. It eventually ends up leaving people confused and empty, wondering, "Is this all?" For many, it can even lead to the kind of depression that threatens one's life. Why? Why?!

Short answer, because romance isn't love. We may feel love for our spouses and partners, but we confuse that love with sexual attraction. Pheromones can sometimes speak louder than hearts, but that's not the heart's fault. Sex and love are closely related, one being a physical expression and the other being either emotional or spiritual, but they aren't the same. So please indulge me and let me tell you about love.

Love is, in short, an appreciation of another being outside yourself. It is compassion, it is connection of some type beyond mere physical encounter. You meet your potential partner and there's a meeting of minds, eventually of hearts. The sexual attraction was there from the start or grew on you, but even it becomes irrelevant in the face of this bigger connection. You get flushed, nervous, giddy. You then get serious, intense, and respectful. You decide it's a match made in heaven, get seriously involved and intimate, learn each other's secrets, and make a relationship out of it. Woo! Romance!

But is it the one true love? No. Sorry to break it to you. "Well, what the hell is it, then?" you ask. Believe it or not, there's something bigger. And you may even have it with your partner and know it (or not), but in reality - the true reality, not this silly physical mindset we've adopted for fun - there is no "one" true love. There is only unconditional love.

You've heard it before. Unconditional love. What a lovely concept - and so highly impractical.

Well no, it's not impractical. It's the only way we can save ourselves. If we can't forgive, respect, and have compassion for an individual, if we must place conditions and expectations on our love and respect, then it's not love at all. Yes, practically speaking, one has to make the choice on whether they will continue a relationship with another being based on expectations, but if you begrudge them, hate them, etc., you don't know love. You only know possession. Our toys must work properly. We don't have to share our toys. Only we are allowed to break our own toys. Ahem, people are not toys. After years of observation, it appears that this is our largest mistake as humans, all ultimately seeking love.

Unconditional love has no expectations. It cannot hate. It takes every individual, no matter how much we agree or disagree, and appreciates their existence anyway. It recognizes only itself. You, I, He, She - we are all merely extensions of this primary force. We are only expressions of it, whether we exercise its pure light or the perverted, prysmatic version. WE are love expressed. Our existence says so. It's all about experiencing the energy on a specific level, the physical. That's what we're here for. We are the basest form of life, yet we are the highest. We are the ones with the courage to come here to learn every conceivable viewpoint, and it's our job to find our way back to unity, back to the core of us. And no, I'm not talking about the psyche here. I'm talking about the soul. Even those who believe there is no soul are expressing a viewpoint that will educate us all in the end. We are the universe. We are the big bang. We are GOD. And we're all in it together.....

Ah, yeah that. Heh. You laugh and say, "Well you said it yourself - it's great, but highly impractical. How the hell do you propose We manage that?"

I didn't say it's easy, but it is necessary. We're in a time when our hang-ups about each other are bleeding over into things that never were our business. We're bringing shit down on ourselves because we're too busy trying to place our rules on them. The only way to stop this is to stop the hate.

Hate is a real energy, but it is perverted. It is love twisted - the soul knows this. That's what makes it so hard to let go of. Even in it's distorted state, it seems better than nothing at all. But we've all been here enough times to know in our hearts that its consequences aren't worth the price. Hatred destroys our God-given right and yes, obligation, to love unconditionally. We must wake up and smell the pure love.

There is a price to be paid, however. We must surrender our self-righteous attitudes. We must give up enough of our pride and egos to remember that we are not the only ones with a right to be. We must abandon the megalomania. We must recognize and respect our brothers. It's a hefty price, admittedly, but the reward is bigger. To know you are loved for your very self, to know that you need not carry the burden hatred carries with it, to allow real love, the love of family into your everyday life and not just your home - that's precious.

You are my brothers, my sisters. We may disagree, but I cannot help but love you.

Thank you, sweet beautiful brother, for reminding me of what I already knew but forgot in my moments of indignation.

In 1879, the average price of "love" — the kind that comes by the hour — in Washington, DC was about four dollars.

The United States arsenal of coinage contained nothing worth that. (Although France, Spain and other important European countries did. Hmmm.) We had the three dollar gold piece, though they weren't seen much because everybody used them to buy three-cent postage stamps. Next up was the five dollar half eagle. While the practice of the world's oldest profession might be thought to have engendered significant artistry in making change, it could be considered unseemly to the more refined of these businesswomen, and to their clientele. Something had to give.

Fortunately, a few folks plying the trade of the world's second oldest profession, always eager to please in exchange for campaign contributions and the like, had heard the call of the silver miners in their districts. When Germany went to a gold standard and divested the government's hoard of silver, the world price of silver dropped dramatically. Some from the House of Representatives went to bat by sponsoring a new coin. But a four dollar silver coin would have been huge, and silver had lost favor with some people, so two new bimetallic coins were proposed: a one dollar "goloid" with 96% silver and 4% gold, and a 90%/10% gold and silver four dollar piece.

The four dollar coin was to be named the Stella, and would be the baseline for a family of multiply- and fractionally-denominated coins to parallel the Eagles. Two big names in the coin design biz, Charles Barber and George Morgan, submitted similar designs[1], and patterns of each were struck; a total of 435 in 1879, all but ten of which were Barber's, and 25 more in 1880, again with ten being Morgan's "coiled hair" design. These proof patterns tended to find themselves in the possession of Congressmen, who would decide which design would be chosen to be coined for circulation; they were charged the cost of production, which was about $6.50 I'm told.

For whatever reason (perhaps related to the bimetallic composition of the coin, which has never worked out well, or maybe just poltical infighting), Congress decided not to issue the coin after all.

As the only evidence of the coin that never was, these Stella proofs were highly sought after by collectors, most of whom were destined never to own one. But in the few years after they were made, some of them were to be found adorning the decolletage of the high-end madams in town.[2]

I don't know what becomes of pattern proofs of new coins these days, but I would guess they don't get spent at face value. (Though perhaps the Honorable Members did get more than the normal treatment for their four dollar gelt.) On the other hand, our elected leaders aren't known for caring overmuch how they spend their loot.

Obviously, their rarity makes all Stellas very valuable today, the Morgan design even more so, being super-rare even within the 460 total ever made. Folks who believe in the value of hard money like to say that an ounce of gold would buy a man a suit in the time of Julius Caesar, would buy one in the Middle Ages, and will still buy one today. For these folks, buying the temporary affection of a dedicated craftswoman with a Stella, the price of love today ranges from thirty five thousand to half a million dollars.

[1] The designs were very similar, a left-facing profile of a woman; Barber's had "flowing hair" loosely hanging around her neck, Morgan's "coiled hair" was in a bun and gave the impression of a frumpy housewife. I don't know if the general idea was dictated to them or what. The reverse design was identical on both, and probably created by someone else. (It is not unheard of for the obverse and reverse designs to come from different people.) The odd thing about the reverse of the Stella, and as far as I know it was unique in this, is that the value was described not only as "Four Dollars" but also "400 CENT".

[2] The female busts on United States coins are not generally archetypes of feminine beauty, but between the two types of Stellas, the Barber "flowing hair" looks much better than the Morgan. Fortunately, since more than 95 percent of them were Barbers, the bordello proprietor walking the streets with a Stella on her necklace probably was wearing the more flattering of the two.

I've just found out that, if you'd like to get a piece of history at a somewhat lesser price, you can search out one of the Stella tribute coins made by the Republic of Liberia in 2002, using .999 fine gold in a 1/5 ounce coin. A total of 790 were made, and you'd think they would be split between the Barber and Morgan designs in the same proportion as the originals, but, alas, no. There are 380 of the Morgan design and 410 of the Barber. Who thought that up, I have no idea. The reverse is similar to the original except for having mottos of Liberia rather than of the United States. The star design is the same, but it says 4000 CENT to go along with the FORTY DOL. face value.


  • Conversation with a coin dealer
  • "A Guide Book of United States Coins" (The Red Book), Whitman Publishing

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