“Everything in the universe is a pitcher brimming with wisdom and beauty.” -Rumi
In chapter 2 of Annie Dillard’s beautiful book “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” she tells a story from her childhood when she would hide a penny in her neighborhood for someone to find. She’d write out directions that lead to the penny, with statements like “Surprise Ahead” or “Money This Way,” and imagine the excitement of the person who chose to follow the directions to the prize.
As Dillard got older, she reflected on what she’d done as a child, asking, “But who gets excited by a mere penny?” She identified that as a problem. “It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. 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.”
Dillard is saying there are all sorts of positive surprises out there just waiting for us to find. We just have to train ourselves to see them. Someone offering to put a grocery cart away, waving another forward on the freeway on-ramp, the singing of a sparrow, your mail being delivered, a smile.
So your role this week is to anonymously plant “pennies” and surprises for people to find without them knowing you planted them. While doing that, I encourage you to imagine that everyone is doing the same thing.
In other words, don’t forget to notice those pennies and surprises meant for you.