Penny Signs


Yesterday, I crossed the unseen threshold of a painful memory.

Wow! You haven’t thought about that in months! My brain crowed, victoriously. Look what a good job I’m doing at not remembering this thing that decimated your self worth!

Famous last words. My insecurities descended upon me with a thousands fluttering, buzzing insect wings as if draw to a flame. They have evolved somewhat since last I saw them: they used to sing a tune called “You’re Not Good Enough, Why Even Try”, which I finally managed to outgrow once I developed enough of my identity to feel good about myself without having to enumerate my accomplishments as proof of my worth.

The new song is called “Your Friends All Talk About You And Laugh Behind Your Back”. It turns out I’m still pretty vulnerable to this one. I spent most of the afternoon wrestling with my sense of paranoia and self medicating with chocolate which alternately spiked and dropped my blood sugar. My ability to cope with low self esteem seems to have a proportional relationship to how much energy I have, which in turn seems to have a proportional relationship to how much caffeine I’ve had. Some days, a five hour energy shot turns out to be a five hour dose of peace of mind.

Yesterday was one of those days.

So in spite of having a tough afternoon, I was feeling calm and rational again by the time I walked to the bus home. I made my way along the painted line of the bike path thinking about signs. As in “if you want me to do something, God, give me a sign!” It occurred to me that asking the divine force for a sign was an abdication of responsibility: make this decision for me, I don’t want to have to be responsible.

I resolved to take responsibility for my own decisions.

Still, though, I found myself thinking. I wouldn’t mind a little sign that I’m on course… You know, to help keep the faith.

I hadn’t even finished the thought when my eye caught on a familiar shape in the dirt: a penny. Heads up. The exact same color as the ground and a little off my path, but I’d seen it anyway. I picked it up.

Ok, well I guess that answers that. I thought. I put the penny in my pocket. You got your sign: keep your head up.

A few paces later and I was at the bus stop. I stepped off the path to wait for my bus. I took out my book. I glanced at the ground. I saw a familiar shape. A penny. Heads up. A little ways off the path. The same color as the ground. I picked it up. I put it in my pocket.

My lucky day!

Ask and ye shall receive, says the good book. Seek and ye shall find.

The bus arrived and opened its doors. I stepped forward to board and happened to glance at a nearby trash can: there on the cover, a glint of copper. Was it a penny?

No. It was a HEAP of pennies.

Holy shit.

I struggled to gather them all up- twenty six in all. I put them in my pocket. I boarded the bus.

What were the chances?!

I made my way to my usual seat in the back of the bus. I sat down. I glanced at the other empty seats around me. Saw a glint of copper. A penny left on the seat. Picked it up. Put it in my pocket. Glanced at the floor: a familiar shape wedged beneath some weather stripping- another penny (wedged in too tightly for me to retrieve).

I counted my blessings. Twenty nine pennies in all. A thirtieth appeared, for good measure, after I transferred buses. Because if you’re going to send a sign you might as well make it a nice round number.

The Powers That Be wasn’t messing around.

So I’m inclined to believe that I’m going to be ok. That things are going to work out. That I’m on the right path. I’m still at the mercy of the doubtful voices in my head, but I got thirty cents worth of faith to throw at them. It’s not a lot, but it ain’t nothing.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 5, 2019.

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