Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pennies Add Up


I was riding on Bart, and in the aisle next to my seat, there were two shiny pennies on the floor. I noticed, but it didn't cross my mind that I might just reach down and pluck them, essentially making myself 2 cents richer, for nothing other than the fact that I noticed and bothered to scoop them up. Just as I was contemplating the discarded pennies, a man wearing a Bart uniform swooped down and picked them up. Maybe he caught the startled look on my face, I'm not sure what made him stop, but he did. He stopped and told me his penny story.

I ride Bart all the time, San Francisco's "bay area rapid transportation." One thing I've noticed is that in Bart stations and on the trains themselves,  somehow people seem to drop or lose or discard their pennies. I'm not saying Bart is swimming in pennies, but there are enough pennies around that I've noticed. The man said that once he found a row of pennies. He laid his recent catch of pennies onto the empty seat next to mine, spreading them out as if they were a deck of cards. There were four or five pennies just sitting there on the seat, like someone was just picking them out of their wallet because they were in the way. I pick them all up he said. I put them in a jar at home.  He smiled, he had a beautiful smile, dimples, bright eyes, a handsome man. And then he wrapped his fingers tight around his pennies and said, "they add up," and continued on.

His message sunk in, maybe not the way he intended it, but I knew that each of the pennies he picked up was more than a penny, it was a symbol for something much bigger. It was a symbol for the way each of our small acts add up. Sometimes we have a dream, and even though we're taking steps toward it, it feels too slow, or we get lost and in the worst case, even think about giving up. But we shouldn't give up, because if we keep working on our dream — gathering the pennies — one by one, in time we'll notice our jar is almost full and what we've set out to do is almost realized, or if it's an ongoing project, we'll see that we have really made a lot of progress and that such a satisfying feeling.

So the moral of the story is, even though they're small, pennies add up. I hope that you, have the courage and strength to continue to pick up your pennies and happy holidays to you!

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