When you see a penny on the ground, do you still pick it up for good luck?
Perhaps you never have to begin with, but a lot of us who grew up in a different time - when a penny might have actually purchased you something - will always have that involuntary reaction to the sudden gleam of copper (or copper-coated zinc in today's terms) at our feet.
Now I should mention that I am not old enough to remember when penny candy could actually be procured for its namesake price. In fact, the cheapest 'penny candy' I can recall being available at the little store on Valley Mall Parkway where we got such things were these tiny, foil-wrapped chocolate footballs that were three cents apiece.
In fact, now that I think about it, the only thing I can honestly recall that you could truly get for a penny - even back in those days - was twelve cassette tapes or 8-tracks from Columbia House. But I'm sure there had to be a few other things you could score too, just nothing I was interested in anyway.
So it seems that hardwired instinct to bend over and snatch a fallen penny anytime I see one has never really been about what its monetary value can bring me in exchange, but is instead connected to a decidedly different motivation.
But what could that motivation be? I mean, if a fallen coin that's only three-quarters-of-an-inch in diameter can't actually be used to get something at least a little bit sweet or a little bit neat, why bother?
Yes, I suppose after you come across enough dropped pennies that they could eventually add up to being worth the cost of something after piling up high enough in your car's center console or ashtray (if it even has one of those, speaking of days gone by), but that's going to take a while and it still wouldn't fetch you very much in the retail world.
Yeah, it's possible that you could a collector of rare coins and are always on the lookout for that impossible-to-find specimen with the wrong mint stamp or with Honest Abe's beard bent the wrong way, but that's probably not going to be most of us.
Just the same, you might be trying to save money on washers and always pick up a forgotten penny to drill a hole in for this purpose or are in the process of making a penny-tiled floor in your rec room, so you need all of them you can get your hands on...but again, these are both rather unlikely scenarios.
Well, despite what psychologists would no doubt tell us about the act being a simple matter of mirroring social behaviors or listening to the un-Vulcanized side of our brain feeding us silly superstitions, the real reason a lot of folks are compelled to take a moment and pick up that fallen penny is magic!
It's the belief - nay - the inherent knowledge that as much as we're told it's a cold, empty Universe that is entirely governed by scientific facts and harsh realities, we know somewhere inside us that synchronicity exists and it's the glue which binds us and everything around us in this experience together. And therefore, that penny at your feet didn't just arrive there by accident, and you are in fact being reminded - in the smallest and sometimes most-patinaed of ways - that you are indeed at the right place at the right time on your journey here!
Now I don't know about you, but for my money - small change or otherwise - that's about the best reason I can think of to take notice of that little copper coin whenever it appears on the ground in front of you.
Sure it would be nice to think that picking it up would also offer you a certain measure of good fortune, but I've got an even better idea!
How about picking it up in full acknowledgement of it being a token for Universal oneness (or one-centness ;-), and then putting it back or flipping it to another location in the grocery store parking lot or on the floor? That way you see, you'll be paying the same message forward to another fellow traveler here who could use the reminder that they too are right where they belong!