Sunday, December 13, 2015

My "Lucky" Coin

This is my "good luck" coin. I carry it with me everywhere I go, even when I'm unlucky. That's the trick to the whole "luck" thing. You gotta have faith. Without my belief that this coin brings me luck, it is nothing but an old penny.

That's the way with most things. You can take them at face value, or assign something more meaningful to it. Everyone needs something to believe in. I don't assign any magical powers to this coin, it is merely a constant, something which I can count upon to always be there. It's reassuring.

Sometimes we find comfort in the most inane of objects. Vice Admiral Stockdale, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, used to tell the story about his tin cup, which he had for the entire time of his imprisonment within the walls of the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War. It seems that the guards stripped the prisoners of all their possessions, watches and jewelry being the most sought after items. But when it came to something utilitarian, like a tin cup, which most people in the service at the time used to carry attached to their belt loops, the Vietnamese let them keep the cup. This was one less item that they had to provide for the prisoner. But what they never realized was that an item as simple as a tin cup could serve as a link to the past and the "real world." That cup came to mean everything to Vice Admiral Stockdale. It represented his past, and future, in a tangible way, providing him with the connection he needed to endure his hardships.

I don't have a special cup anymore, although I did carry one while in the Navy. Since then I have used various coins, over the years, as talismen, small items to comfort me when I need it. This 1854 large cent has been with me for about 10 years now, and we seem to be doing okay. Looking at it gives me a great deal of enjoyment as I spin out stories in my head of where the coin has been, and wondering what was bought with it over the years before it wound up in my pocket.

I'm told that the constant rubbing of the coin against the change in my pocket has lessened it's value by adding wear and scratches to it. But I don't mind. The coin is more valuable to me as an item of continuity, it's always there. And I enjoy taking it out to show off to cashiers, waiters, neighborhood kids, basically anyone who will stop long enough to admire it. Has it brought me any luck? I don't know. But the more important question is this - has it brought me joy? The answer to that is an unequivocal yes.

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