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InnerNet Weekly: Inspirations from

Hiding A Penny
by Annie Dillard

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When I was six or seven years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of my own and hide it for someone else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I’ve never been seized by it since. For some reason, I always “hid” the penny along the same stretch of sidewalk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of sidewalk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions.

After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY. I was greatly excited, during all this arrow-drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way, regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight home and not give the matter another thought, until, some months later, I would be gripped again by the impulse to hide another penny.

The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But — and this is the point — who gets excited by a mere penny?

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.

It is that simple.

About the Author: Annie Dillard's excerpt taken from her book, 'Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.'
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Hiding A Penny
How do you relate to the notion of 'healthy poverty and simplicity' that allows you to be joyful in discovery? Can you share a personal story of a time you reveled in gratitude for receiving a simple, humble and anonymous gift? What helps you cultivate a 'healthy poverty and simplicity'?
Jagdish P Dave wrote: Healthy poverty to me means that I feel fullness in my heart. I feel a deep and abiding sense of contentment. There is nothing missing in the fullness of my heart. I do not feel the urge or craving to...
David Doane wrote: I guess a healthy poverty and simplicity is having only as much of whatever as I need. Unhealthy wealth and complexity is having much more than I need. My daughter does a lot of business related trave...

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