See a Penny, Pick it Up

As a child, I remember feeling joy at discovering a penny on the street. Today, if I even notice a penny, I step right over it. I never bother to stop. Do you?

How many other small treasures do I miss, or worse, dismiss during my day as unworthy of my time and, more importantly, my attention?

American author Annie Dillard says pennies (instances of beauty and joy) are all around us and we’re missing out if we don’t take time to fully experience them.

In Seeing, the second chapter of A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Dillard urges us to rediscover joy by paying attention, and to:

“Cultivate a healthy poverty of simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted with pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.”

In fact, Dillard says paying attention is our obligation:

Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will sense them. The least we can do is be there.

I know what I’m going to do, the next time I find a penny.

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