Annie Dillard wrote: “It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny” (15). Irony…truth…poking fun…I appreciate Annie’s keen observations; they make me think…ponder…smile…
Is picking up a penny off of the sidewalk worth it? Some people don’t think so; those are the people that throw the pennies on the ground in the first place.
In the last week I’ve found three different pennies lying on the sidewalk on three different days… When I see a penny, a dime, or even a twenty dollar bill…I happily scoop it off of the ground. (Yes, when I was fifteen, I found a damp twenty dollar bill laying on a median in a parking lot!)
In her chapter on “Seeing,” Annie delightfully shares from her childhood about how she used to hide pennies for people to find:
“For some reason I always ‘hid’ the penny along the same stretch of sidewalk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of sidewalk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY” (14). I have yet to see signs like this, but I find pennies on the sidewalk often.
I’ve been listening to Annie Dillard’s The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on audio book, and at the same time finding lots of pennies. When I heard this quote, it made me so happy:
“But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get” (15).
Let the little copper gleams you find throughout your day delight you—be it a penny, a cookie, or a smile!
Citations from the book The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.
By M. H. Campbell Copyright 2015