Whenever I’m on a roll (existentially at least), I find pennies.
I’m not talking about a sporadic coin here or there. I’m talking about a down pour of pennies for weeks on end. I stumble across at least one a day, sometimes in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Once during a long stretch of daily pennies, I was directing a show in a local theater. I sat in the same theater seat all morning, until I approached the stage to work through a cue. I was out of my seat for maybe ten minutes. When I returned, a shiny copper penny was waiting for me on the hand rest.
I just smiled and pocketed it, like all the others.
I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on in my life every time the universe launches a penny campaign, but it always seems to be during a time of change or transformation. I’ve come to feel like someone is sending me a message of affirmation about my journey—a metaphorical thumbs-up or slap on the back.
One Sunday at the end of a weekend workshop, I was in Beaufort, S.C. with my friend Dianne. I had a flight to Chicago for an important business meeting, but there was time to explore the area before heading to the airport.
Along the moss-covered drive toward the coast, we had seen a sign advertising a Yoruba African village, which seem strangely situated outside this old Southern town. So of course we had to go.
We parked our car on the hot, sandy drive and entered the concrete entrance flanked by two medieval-looking towers. A man in traditional African attire told us the village had been founded in 1970 by about ten families who wanted to live as their ancestors did in West Africa.
Other than our greeter, the place was oddly quiet, with little noise to compete with the incessant chirps of the cicadas. We strolled around shrines to various African gods with offerings of food, drink and other gifts set out before them.
We stopped at the shrine of the West African god of travel, or so the sign told us. I was thinking about my trip to meet my client, so I said a little blessing to get me off without incident. As we turned to leave, a shiny penny glinted in the mid-afternoon sun.
I picked it up and put it in my poeket.
Later that evening when my flight was cancelled, I would have ordinarily lost my cool. Instead, I waited in line for two hours, watching people around me blow up and melt down in frustration. I clutched my penny and reminded the African god of travel about our deal.
The woman behind the counter looked at my useless ticket and click-click-clicked on her keyboard. She frowned, clicked some more and told me the last flight to Chicago had sold out two hours earlier. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I casually placed my penny on the counter. The attendant didn’t notice–she was busy frowning at her screen, clicking away. I pushed the penny closer to her computer.
She looked up and smiled. “Well, I don’t know who is looking out for you, but somehow you are booked on the 7:15 flight.“
She printed out my boarding pass and glanced at the time. “Your bags should make it too.”
Listen, I know it’s unlikely that penny made a plane reservation miraculously appear. Just like my brain tells me that an outpouring of pennies couldn’t possibly be a message from God when I need direction.
I’m sure it means nothing that I’ve found a penny everyday for the last two weeks. There can’t be anything to the fact that when I sat down in the EarthFare café to write this post, this is what I found.
Where one person sees coincidence, I choose to see magic. Whether it makes sense or not, I’d rather see the world as a series of tiny miracles than a succession of meaningless accidents.
“Lucky Penny Day” is coming soon. If you find one, choose to see magic.