A penny for your thoughts

Nothing was working the way it should. When I finally sat down on a bench underneath a small grove of Redwoods I felt like screaming. I was angry.

Angry that San Francisco was still a maze. Angry that my perfectly-scheduled morning collapsed almost as soon as I left the house. Angry that underneath the outfit I had carefully selected to ward off the usual foggy chill, I was now a dripping mess. Even the weather had it out for me today.

I knew better than this. I was supposed to be more patient. More accepting. Just roll with the punches. Instead, I was fuming.

In the past, a morning like this one would have snowballed. Anger would have infected everything. My way out? The relief waiting for me at the end of the day. Fixing a drink. Taking the edge off. Forgetting about everything that bothered me. When it came to this solution, I was more than practiced.

In the past, a morning like this one would have snowballed. Anger would have infected everything.

When I stopped drinking, I had to figure out new ways to give myself relief. No longer could I rely on a quick fix. It was just me and my anger (or frustration or loneliness or whatever feeling I didn’t want to feel). Sitting in that park, I was furious.

Then I saw it. Even before picking it up, I knew from the distinctive halo of wheat, that the penny on the ground was at least half a century old. Flipping it over in my hand, I had to squint to make out a tiny “s” stamped below the date, 1925. Minted in San Francisco during the Roaring Twenties, who knew where this penny had traveled or what it had helped purchase over the last 90 years.

My anger dissolved. I couldn’t help it. My mind had already shifted gears. How long had this memento from the past gone unnoticed? Looking around me, I started to wonder which buildings stood back then. What would’ve been happening in the neighborhood? How had this penny managed to stay in circulation so long after its expiration date?

My anger dissolved. I couldn’t help it. My mind had already shifted gears. How long had this memento from the past gone unnoticed?

I felt a little better.

Thankfully, I’m not at the mercy of randomly appearing wheat pennies to solve my anger. But once I decided that I was no longer going to depend on a quick fix to feel better, I had to learn how to rely on myself. For me, this has involved the practice of changing my perspective. Seeing something from a new angle or in a new light. Knowing that I can change how I feel. And yes, noticing all the little bits of magic around me.