A Penny from 1919
Life of Pi? I only know Life of Penny.
I wrote this blurb in my notes app exactly a year ago — on Feb 8 2021, and I wanted to share it with you, unchanged. (See what I did there, hehe)
Without further ado, my rant about an old penny ( I promise it’s got some substance to it [at least I think so]):
I have a penny from 1919. I don’t remember when I first found it, but I’ve held onto it all this time.
As I look at this tiny piece of metal, I see more than just its discoloration, indentations, and faded away imprinting. I see a history unknown to my scope of life. I cant help but analyze the concavity of the coin. How did those come about? Was it dropped? Thrown? Did someone, or something, step on it? Did someone sink their teeth into it to check if it’s legit or not? Probably not, cause I don’t see any teeth marks but you never really know after it’s been 102 years.
The imprint of Abraham Lincoln has diminished and almost morphed with the slow but new smoothness of the coin. Has it been washed? Under a lot of pressure? How many pockets has this been in? How many purses? Has it ever left the country and come back? What kind of round trip adventure did it experience in the hands of another?
This was after the First World War, right before the Roaring 20s. The Great Depression. I wonder who it helped survive then? I wonder what it endured in that time. How many places it’s been. How many hands it has touched. I wonder about the gender, the race, the ethnicity, the age of the individual in whose care it was under. I wonder about all the situations it’s been in, all the potential perils it faced that by some miraculous happenstance led it to stay afloat all this time and into my possession. I wonder if it’s been on a train. I wonder if some lofty business man took it into his company on a long trip or to work. I wonder if a child gave it to her friend. A mother to her daughter. If a son gave it to a shopkeeper. Was it spent at a bar? A dance club? What if it was spent with a girl hanging out with her best friends to get over a cheating lover? To buy a pack of cigarettes? To play a game of heads or tails? Or by a couple during their first date as the boy feverishly and awkwardly rushes to buy a bouquet of flowers with the scraps of money he has left? Or just parents, trying to feed their kids? How many grocery stores has it been in? I wonder what weather weathered it down to the dents and scrapes it has now, in my possession.
I wonder what I thought years ago that made me decide to keep this penny away from the rest of my money, why I chose to focus on the imprint of “1919” and safeguard it.
I cant explain why, but I feel like a guardian to this penny. I cant let it get lost, I cant entrust it to another soul but myself. This small relic of the past is so similar to the pennies today that it honestly feels like nothing has changed. Knowing the history of the United States, I know this to be untrue, but the odd constancy of the coin throughout this time has certainly created much contemplation.
So much in life is unstable, uncertain, and unpredictable. It’s amazing how this mere coin survived all that, carrying all the stories of the individuals that touched it on the surface of its head or tail. Thinking about all the scenarios it might have encountered is overwhelming my mind, but I’m not complaining.
It’s all the mundane things in life that I picture. I think of all these things make life beautiful. I think it makes it memorable. Surely the money I cycle through today has little meaning to me in the same sense the penny does, but it’s the experience that comes out of it that I remember, just as the individuals preceding me did. Isn’t that what life basically is? To me, it’s just this amalgamation of little memories, little situations that build into bigger ones. Individual choices, such as spending money, or coins, on something that leads to something else. Just as that coin has probably helped many people in life in making their memories, it’s found it’s way to me and this is the memory I choose to have with it. It’s my reminder. My reminder that there’s so much to life both known and unknown. My reminder that little things matter. My reminder that it’s a small world after all. My reminder that it’s all relative.
Well, there ya have it, folks! Not sure entirely what this was and what it meant, but looking back on it, I’m not sure how I was able to think this deeply into a penny. “Past” me had some interesting thoughts about life, and I wanna know yours!
Leave a comment, follow, clap, and all that good stuff if you want! Here’s some more things for you to read from and about me if you’d like:
Personality Piece: More About Me
Stumbled upon a work of mine or my profile somehow and wanna know me a lil more? Read on!
Is “Everything Happens For a Reason” Good Advice?
A phrase of comfort or offense?