Find a Penny


Days 20-23: About a year ago my beautiful friend R sent me a care package from America with a penny encased in a little bag and the words “Find a penny pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.” I still have it on my wall. While we don’t have pennies in Austalia anymore, like many Americanisms this saying is well-known here. As with kindness, money is something that everyone would like more of, and finding it is probably considered good luck in any culture. When I found some money this week, it provided a very spontaneous opportunity for discovering whether it is possible to be kind to others while taking full advantage of luck for yourself.

Anzac Day is a public holiday in Australia, a day when we remember all the Australian and New Zealand soldiers that have served and died in war. I decided a simple way to be kind on Anzac Day would be to donate some money to Legacy, an organisation caring for families of deceased war veterans, which I did. However, for many Australians the best way to remember the diggers is having a beer (or ten) in their honour and playing two-up. I’m pretty sure they would approve. Two-up is a traditional game in which you bet on whether two coins (normally pennies, funnily enough) will be flipped heads or tails. My friends and I take part in this crazy ritual every year, and though I never win any money it is a lot of fun. This particular Anzac Day while I was waiting at the bar in a very busy pub, the man beside me dropped some money. I think he was a few beers past remembering his own name, let alone noticing he was $10 short, but I tapped him on the shoulder and returned the money, to his absolute amazement. Perhaps some people would have considered it lucky, or good karma, that they had found the money, and been ‘kind’ to themselves by simply pocketing it since he would never be any the wiser. But make of this what you will: almost immediately afterwards I headed back out to the two-up ring and preceded to win almost three times as much money as I had just returned to the man at the bar. I didn’t even think of it at the time, but later I wondered if I had kept that man’s money for myself, would I have still won?

Over the last few days I also cleaned out my closet and donated a big bag of clothes to St Vincent de Paul (a charity helping people overcome poverty and disadvantage). And I bought a coffee for the lady standing in line behind me, who was appreciative but not overly surprised, as though random acts of kindness made perfect sense within her positive world-perspective. She commented that she would certainly have to pay it forward to someone else, and then finally asked me why I wanted to do something nice (normally the first question people ask, repeatedly.) Before I could answer the barista said: “That’s just what she does. Every single day she is kind.” I don’t know why exactly, but as I walked away with my coffee my smile couldn’t have been much wider.

Say Yes

Days 13-16: There is an idea that luck is something that finds us. That when good things happen – meeting an amazing partner, landing a dream job, having great friends – it’s just plain lucky. There is another perspective that you make your own luck through hard work and applying yourself. There is probably an element of truth to each of these theories. However, today I begun to consider whether one of the most important factors in luck is simply being open to accepting it when it comes our way. But more on that later, first to my other recent kindnesses which were all revolving around food in some form:

On Sunday I cooked a nice meal for my Mum, did the washing up, made her a cup of tea and watched a political documentary with her (without complaining or requesting a channel change once!) It’s the little things, afterall …

Continuing on the cooking theme, on Monday I made hot cross buns from scratch with the two-year-old I nanny for. He adores cooking, although amusingly he is generally so excited by the idea of it that he can barely stand still long enough to actually cook anything. I have just recently entered into the big bad baking world and I must say in hindsight hot cross buns are possibly one of the most ambitious things to make. And one of the slowest, taking over two hours! Nevertheless, the time and effort only made it seem extra kind and the end result was quite delicious.

Tuesday I shouted lunch for my gorgeous cousin O. Also, upon hearing that she was looking for a good book to read on her upcoming trip overseas, I bought her a pre-loved copy of one of my all-time favourite novels ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. Please note, in my opinion passing on a good book is not a voluntary kindness, but an absolute duty. As those who know me well can testify, I never ignore an opportunity to spread the literary love.

Then today I decided it was time to cheer up a stranger’s day. Extending on my positive affirmation post-it notes from a few weeks ago, I added some instant scratchies* to make it a really happy surprise for whoever happened to find it. I stuck positive post-its along with a scratchy in public places such as an elevator and a parking pay station. Interestingly, as I left I noticed a lady leaving the elevator empty-handed. Had she failed to see the scratchy or simply chosen not to take it? I imagined myself in the elevator, seeing the scratchie. Of course I would take it … wouldn’t I? It made me think about the idea of luck itself. Maybe there was really something to the idea that we make our own luck, simply by being open to the opportunities all around us and grabbing them with both hands. I thought of the lady who had run away when I tried to give her the flowers. Although I had been upset by her reaction, it was really her who was missing out. Her reaction of distrust and fear, her desire to ensure she was not inconvenienced in any way, meant that she denied herself of a positive experience. Perhaps flowers weren’t the only thing she was missing out on in life. In order to invite more positivity into the world, I’m starting to get that it’s important to be open to recieving as well as giving. Take the flowers, scratch the scratchie. When luck asks you a question, say yes.

* NB: Apologies to my American readers for not translating, apparently its just called a “lottery ticket” for you guys!