...And a Penny for Luck

Hey world,

On April 15th, I was having a terribly stressful day, and I stayed late at my office working on readings and papers. As I left, I was grousing because it was raining and I brought the tiniest umbrella I own, I was starving because I had eaten through all of my snacks hours before, and I still had an hour ahead of me of subway travel before I would be home and able to relax (and eat). 

So I left the building, and with my shoulders hunched, I put my head down and pushed forward. Not a minute into walking, I noticed a penny shining through a puddle. For some crazy reason, I decided to stop and pick it up.

As I was standing back up, I noticed the entire sidewalk was glittering. As dozens of people rushed past me with their umbrellas and their worries, I picked up dozens and dozens of coins, one by one, all the while beaming like a kid in a candy store. No one even noticed what I was doing, they just sidestepped me and my efforts, and moved on. No one even took a second to look down; no one even noticed that they were walking over a handful of dollars. Simply, no one took the time to care. 

Meanwhile, I scoured the space around me for coins. I walked into the street. I scuffed around muddy puddles. I interrogated the crevices of the sidewalk. And I put everything I found in a pocket in my bag without really taking note of how many/what I was picking up. 

When I got home, I put all of the coins I collected on my counter, and was shocked to see that most of the coins I picked up were quarters and dimes than pennies. In the rain and in the moment, I didn't even notice. I picked up over $6. 

My treasures from that night! 

But what was more striking, was that no one else before noticed. 99% of the time, we rush from place to place in our "busy" lives, and don't dare take a moment to soak in our surroundings...to see what we might be missing. 

When we see but don't actually 'see', we stand to miss out on the many blessings that surround us every day. We might be missing out on the big things and precious moments, or maybe it's just something small like a penny.

Pennies are the most discredited of all monies in the US; I had a friend as a child who actually used to throw hers away in the trash. Let me repeat that...SHE THREW AWAY HER PENNIES IN THE GARBAGE, because they weren't worth the effort. People walk by pennies all of the time - particularly if it's tails up. 

After April 15th I asked myself, how much am I missing each and every day? What don't I see that I could be? How many pennies a day am I walking by?

So I made a pact: I will pick up every single penny I see. 

Since then, I have picked up anywhere between 1-20 pennies a day. A couple of times, I have hit the jackpot, finding piles of pennies that people dropped and left. Other times, I find a single penny on the sidewalks of the East Village, of the Upper West Side, on the subway, in Harlem, even outside of my apartment building. Sometimes, I find pennies throughout the day. And I always ask myself, how long has this penny been here? How many people walked by without noticing this penny? How many people noticed it, and left it on the sidewalk instead of taking a moment to bend down and pick it up? 

No day is complete without a penny-sighting, and every day becomes a great day with my new penny in my pocket.

But more importantly, it's a daily reminder to not only look down (on my continual search for coinage), but to look up, look forward, and look around. I've spotted a blimp, I've exchanged smiles with numerous people, I've watched clouds float by, watched the sun set behind the Empire State building, and witness heart-melting moments between couples, parents and children, and random acts of kindness between strangers. 

My penny fanaticism is more than just a penny. It's about a way of moving through the world where every little thing counts.

Will you start looking for pennies? 


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. I'm going to start looking!! I also collect playing cards and I found that it wasn't so much spotting a discarded playing card on the ground (but, oh, that is a thrill!) but the act of looking for them that brings me such calmness.