I was thinking about this just yesterday and this morning I happened to read Annie Dillard's essay that went so well with that idea. Dillard talks about her childhood and how she used to take some pennies and leave them on the sidewalk for someone to find them. She drew arrows with chalk that led to the pennies. The idea of an unexpected surprise that was waiting for someone excited her. And then she continues, "There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from some 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 hungry and tired 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. What you see is what you get."
And I think this is what I have been doing these past four days. Collecting pennies. They aren't worth a fortune, at least not separately, but by picking those little pennies someone's generous hand has cast on my way, I can, in my own poverty, buy a lifetime of days. During these days spent here in Pärnu I have indeed stooped to pick up every little penny and every little memory that has come my way. I leave today to the next leg of my trip with a lot of little memories in my heart that will tinkle for a long while still.
I have met up with some good friends who happen to spend a shorter or a longer part of their summer here in Pärnu. It was very kind of A. and I. and K. to invite me over to their place for some pizza and sauna and conversation. Good friends keep us grounded, they keep us sane and they keep us loved. I am very grateful for such friendships. Another penny is the sea - and I have faithfully gone swimming every day, no matter the weather. Every time I feel the warmth of the water, the strength of the waves, the sand beneath my feet and the wind in my face, I am grateful to the Almighty for the ability to sense things physically. Morning walks in the seaside park - yet another penny. The sparrows who want to eat my cake as much as I do and who keep me entertained the whole time spent in my favourite cafe - isn't that a penny too? An hour long conversation about theology with my dad in a fancy restaurant we've just discovered. The freedom to leave my phone and my wristwatch home when heading to the beach. Eating strawberries. Watching tiny Iceland win an epic football battle and yelling my head off in relief with the final whistle - even this I counts as a penny worth picking up. :) The freedom not to open my work e-mail. Books. Sun. Rain.
That's a lot of pennies!