Monday, August 12, 2013

who gets excited?

There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But— and this is the point— who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight of a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued 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. 

— Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


  1. oh, i burst with a healthy poverty!!!!!!

    but it is funny, people reject it. people want distance from it as though it is the plague. even considering some critical analysis of jack gilbert who exiled himself into a living poverty and real life (not poor at all), there are many who just don't seem to understand, as though there are two groups of people, again on opposite sides of the river, speaking in different languages. really, two different species.

    (this is yet another book i must read, tinker creek.)


    1. Yes, we seem to be on a spectrum about these things. Is it our true nature to be so?

      Please do read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Robert and George urged me to for a long while.

  2. This is most interesting to me, Ruth, because I always wonder why it is that I still get so excited about finding pennies...and still stoop to pick them up, embarrassing everyone around me, I'm quite sure. Where does that come from? I'd love to know if in our family the older sibs feel the same way but the younger sibs do not. Our family would make quite a case study, right?! :)

    1. It's true that we siblings are on a spectrum too, Boots. I used to pick up pennies, always. Then when I heard them called "lucky pennies" I decided to let someone else pick them up, as I had such good fortune already.


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