A study in contrasts just lying around


I probably walk with my head down too much but I was walking into work on Monday this week and spied a penny on the asphalt of our office’s parking lot.  I didn’t pick said penny up for two reasons.  One, it was not heads up and as everyone knows a penny is only good luck if its head is up.  You know, “Find a penny, pick it up, then all day you’ll have good luck.”  But of course, only if it’s head is up.  If its head is down, it’s bad luck.  So to continue, the second reason, even if I wasn’t superstitious, was it was still, after all, just a penny.  On that same morning as I entered the building, still looking down, I saw this strange object.

purse hanger

I knew it had to be some sort of accessory and not for the male gender but darned if I could see a use for it.  Sure, it was sort of pretty but I just didn’t know.  So, figuring someone would be looking for it I hung it on the rail leading up to the stairs.  I figured it would be more visible, out of harm’s way for those who don’t look down when they walk and the owner would see it and be thankful it was still intact.  I didn’t think much about the penny or the bauble throughout the week, but for some reason no one has been able to decipher, it popped back into my mind on Friday and a funny thing had happened.

The bauble was still there and the penny was long gone.  I admit it set my overly analytical, uber-philosophical and overactive creative mind to work.

Why would someone pick up a lowly penny, unattractive, worth next to nothing, off the crummy, hot asphalt and yet not take the shiny bauble?  (I learned after the fact that it was a purse hanger)  Seeing as the purse hanger had real utility and functionality (as long as you carry a purse) and the penny had so little unless you picked up something approaching thousands of them, why was one shunned and the other one found a home?

My first thought was universality.  Whereas the purse hanger was really only good for one thing, the penny, as long as it was combined with tons of its cohorts, could be used for anything.  Despite the fact that it’s the lowest denomination of its kind (legal tender) it still holds some value.

My second thought was simplicity and acceptability.  The penny really needs no understanding, it’s one cent.  And although you’ll get the stink eye if you buy a Coke with over a hundred of them, they still have to take them.  The purse hanger, although I turned it around and unfolded it and wondered if the back of it was magnetic, was a mystery to me.  Okay, so that might be more reflective of my intelligence, it’s probably largely because I don’t carry a purse and even if I did I don’t think I’d spend money just so it could hang off the table when I went to lunch even though I see that’s useful.  Who knows, maybe I don’t like pink?  I’m not really averse to pink but I could be.  Of course after I went through the logical reasons for the snub to the purse holder and the acceptance of the penny my mind went all metaphorical.

Perhaps we feel a bit like the penny.  Perhaps we think we’re inconsequential because we don’t do big things.  We think we’re a penny amongst a bunch of twenty dollar bills, or fifties or c-notes.  What we bring to the table just might not seem all that flashy, like the purse holder.  We’re not much to look at, but in that, lies our real worth and I think our beauty.

Sure, we might have to band together with hundreds or thousands of our friends to really accomplish huge things but that’s what makes us cool.  Together with our friends, each of us chipping in just a little, we create, we make, we bring about more than any one of us could ever dream of.  Yes, we’re all just pennies but we still have value and just as the longest trek starts with the first step, we can be the one penny that begins the fortune to bring about real change.

So don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not valuable or make you feel inconsequential.  Perhaps alone you may be over-matched but if you shine, someone will see your worth.  You do have something someone wants and needs and when they find you they’ll want to join you in your quest and together you will do great things.

I’m a believer in the power of one, especially when that one is committed and bringing value, no matter how small it seems.  I think we all have the ability to do great things.

If you’d like to read more of my stuff, please head on over to my blog by clicking here.  There’s all sorts of stuff there about life.  Also, if you would like to receive a weekly update on what I’m writing you can subscribe for free.  Click here and you will receive an email on Sundays with links to the week’s posts.