Archive for June, 2010

Every moment counts…so never overlook a parking lot penny.  I think perhaps I could have easily been one, but you took the time to stop, reach down…and put me in your pocket. I have been getting polished there ever since.  I remember well the moment you took me into your life with a simple kind gesture.  It was also the moment I took you into my heart for the duration.

A parking lot penny might be a smile from a stranger, or a smile you give away. A parking lot penny might lie there tarnished and abandoned.  We all know it is bad luck to pick up a penny that isn’t face-up. Well, I believe a tails-up penny is akin to a phone with caller ID.  I may not be looking forward to a call from that number.  I might not have felt like being bothered…stopping and bending down to rescue a mere cent from the roadway when I have a pocket full of dollars and silver…but I know a few of those calls from unknown areas codes have been to inform me of news that ranged from births to cancer discovered, of marriages planned to death impending.  Pick up that tired old facedown penny.  I myself have been face down in the dirt, metaphorically speaking, and I have been the number on your caller ID…all I needed was to hear a kind hello, a voice to acknowledge I still exist and am worthy of a moment spent and a place there in your pocket.

A tails-up penny can be a movie or TV show your sweetie would like to watch but you aren’t real keen on.  Pick up his or her penny. It will be noted, and you just might enjoy it because you’re watching it with a loved one. A small gesture on your part to retrieve that parking lot penny might mean the world to a special someone.  Once your pocket is well lined with their pennies, you might have won their heart.  Little things really do add up to bigger things.  I know what it did to me when others passed by, leaving my pennies lying there. I also know what reaching down to pick up a few pennies have done for others and for me.

I have met old veterans of every war since WWI. After over 60 years away from the battlefields, ships, and planes, these old guys are still haunted by the sights, sounds, and smells of places they’ve been. These friends are the most treasured parking lot pennies of all.  NEVER step over and past one of these.  Once their hearts and voices are stilled, those stories and generations will vanish for good. Pick up the pennies they lay out for you. Thank them for what they have done and put that penny in your shirt pocket over your heart…then shake their hand.

I’m not wealthy. Some days even the mere penny collection means more to me than I care to admit.  But I am proud to tell you that in my heart’s pocket, I’ve a collection of moments…of times when souls have picked up my pennies, and a moment for each of the pennies I’ve taken in.  After a while, little gestures add up to genuine care. That care builds to compassion and compassion to love…and love makes us worthy.

After a while, when I note my parking lot is free of the pennies I’ve left waiting there, I am aware of the moments I was worthy…of a smile, or a hello at the end of the line, of sharing good news with, or of being a “sought-after shoulder” when the news was troubled. I am aware of the journeys I have been on in pockets here and there…I asked for nothing in return. A collection of parking lot pennies is far more valuable than just the copper cents that might add to a dollar. They add up to character, to listening to the minute details a child might share with boundless enthusiasm…over a caterpillar, or a fish on a line.  Most of my life was parking lot pennies.  The first fifteen years or so were all mere pennies to most of the souls older than I…yet I still recall those who listened to and collected me, one penny at a time.

My collection of parking lot pennies are the letters I treasure, the hugs that linger on, the laughter that leads to happy tears. They are the tears shared together that are eventually replaced by laughter when pennies are counted again in the moments we reminisce.  My pennies are the songs that remind me of you and the lines from movies we watched together.

A parking lot penny is the joy of looking at a grade school teacher’s faded photograph and knowing that her love put your penny into her pocket…and helped make you the person you are today. If you find her, remind her of that penny and that you still recall the moment she knelt down to touch your cheek and took an extra moment to make the concept clear…and at the same time deemed you valuable and worth a moment of her divided time.

In my heart and memory, I have stacks and jars of the pennies I’ve collected. They don’t add up to much to a passerby, but to me, and the folks that left them out to be picked up, they are, a penny at a time; the world.  They give value to life itself.  So too are the pennies I’ve left out for you to find…I knew you’d pick them up eventually. Life is good in your warm pocket…and it is good to have yours in mine.

Thanks for reading my thoughts today…and by the way…You just picked up one of my parking lot pennies. Spend it well, as did I…Matthew L Landsman

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