Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
October 8, 2008Posted by on
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 the 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 learn 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. -Annie Dillard
I hide my pennies in paper. Sometimes I spend hours writing them. Other times only a few minutes. I write from Nashville, but the sidewalk lies wherever you sit. And like Annie, I leave these pennies just as much for me as anyone. I place them for you, though I cannot watch the unearthing. Funny thing about a penny, it holds little value compared to other currency. How often do we spot a copper glimmer only to step over it? Whether it becomes treasure lies in two hearts, that of the hider and the finder. Perhaps you will desire these pennies like water and sip them like wine. Or maybe you’ll motor on by.
Indeed a curious compulsion surges over me, to borrow her words. One that I’m unsure about why, but that I take to as a bird flies. I don’t know how you came upon these pennies, whether I know you fondly or not at all; perhaps I told you about my cent-hiding hobby over lattes; more likely you simply followed the chalk on an internet search engine. Regardless, may a penny or two become precious as you walk. Annie hid her treasures in the sidewalk, a safe haven out of the road. May your heart breathe here, perhaps finding refuge from the traffic. I hide each penny with no agenda. Only the joy of hiding and hoping for discovery.