What's the value you place on a penny? That question has had different answers at different times in my life. In college, pennies found at the bottom of my book bag, locker or purse, were a little bit of a nuisance. You couldn't use them as change for the vending machine or to do your laundry. In addition, some local merchants looked askance when many pennies were used to pay for an item.
In fact, gathering a large number of pennies meant a trip to a local bank (I didn't have a car so it meant taking the bus) and gathering up paper containers to load up the pennies to return them to the bank to get the equivalent in a larger denomination like a dollar. In my opinion...a lot of work and energy for almost nothing!
Well, I obviously did not understand the wisdom of Ben Franklin who is famously quoted as saying " A penny saved is a penny earned." In an article entitled: "Penny-wise: Save Those Pennies--They Can be your path to riches, author Vanessa Cortez writes the following:
It takes under a second to snatch a penny off the ground, or search a phone or vending machine's coin return slot. But even if you require a whole second to grab that penny, you're earning money at a rate of 60 cents a minute -- $36 dollars an hour! So really, while collecting your copper cent, you're actually working at a job that pays an annual salary of $72,000!
And that's if you limit yourself to a mere 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. Industrious penny seekers -- ever eying the ground and checking coin return slots -- even during overtime and vacation time -- can expect to push their annual earnings well above $100,000!
Now, while I wouldn't want to make picking up pennies my career, an important point is being made. The good Book puts it this way "Don't despise the day of small beginnings." It is within the past several years, that I have begun to more fully understand the dimension of power packed into cultivating an appreciation for the small things....the smile from a stranger, the gift of a thought at the right moment, the message in a song. Now, I more fully understand that in the linguistics of heaven, the small things are much bigger than we initially think.
Case in point. Almost a decade ago, I was in a grocery store with my young son. A lady suddenly stopped her grocery cart and said to me "Where do I know you?" We both couldn't think of the answer to the question and as we struck up an impromptu conversation...our toddlers getting antsy in the shopping cart, we finally determined that we had never met, but made plans to get together in the future.
That was start of a wonderful friendship with Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. Patricia and her family had recently emigrated to the United States from war torn Liberia. Her passion and tears for her forsaken homeland found the depth of their expression in her writing of poetry. She had been a university professor in Liberia before the war stripped her and her young family of everything material. But it could not steal the gift of the muse within her heart. Her chronicles or the war through poetry have earned Patricia recognition as one of the great African poets of our time. Several of her books have received critical acclaim.
When I started my blog, Patricia was one of the friends I e-mailed about it. Today, Patricia e-mailed me a link to her new blog where she chronicles her life, her craft and the places she's been. In her e-mail she indicated that my blog had inspired her to start her own!
On her blog, pictures of one poetry reading conference in Bogota. Columbia are stunning. You have to see the picture of the crowds to believe it. No...this was not a football match. This picture is of thousands of people gathering to hear poets read in the language we all instinctively understand...the language in which artist and writer merge...the language of poetry.
My life has been enriched by friends like Patricia. Friends who encourage me to be fearless and step up to the plate and swing the bat as hard as I can to hit the ball out of the park! Friends who are not afraid to let their lights shine. Now, that is no small thing...nor is there such a thing as a "chance meeting."
So, never underestimate the power of a small penny or the possibilities of new friendship. I wonder how much of life's opportunities we miss because we are too busy chasing the "Almighty dollar" to stop and have a conversation with a stranger or to even look at where we're going...we've all probably passed all kinds of money on the ground! If you really understood the true nature of the worth of things...you might find that the value of these small things is incalculable!
To Read More of Patricia Jabbeh Wesley's poems Visit her Website.
*Picture of Patricia & friends is the property of Lola Audu
*Picture penny courtesy of smackfu on flickr
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