A Five-Pound Box of Money
Pearl Bailey sang her famous Christmas ode to a “five-pound bag of money,” appealing to Santa to keep the goods and give her the cash. She was a woman after my own heart. Except in my case, I prefer to receive my money in a box. It’s sturdier. Over many years, I had to fight against a poverty mentality that seemed to wash my dreams out from under me, like waves undermining a sandy cliff. I didn’t believe that I could reach for what I wanted let alone grab it. Fortunately, I don’t believe that any longer. I have really come to see that the world doesn’t work like that. There is something important that I want to share.
I have a little ritual, a kind of game I play, to help remind myself that abundance really is everywhere. To remind myself that I have everything I need to get anything I want. When I’m walking along the streets of San Francisco, coming in and out of the BART stations, going into Walgreen’s or strolling down the Embarcadero, or when I’m in my neighborhood in Oakland, I’m focused on my surroundings as most normal people trying to avoid tripping and falling are. But there is one important difference. If a glint of copper should catch my eye, I’m crouching down, then carrying on. I’m picking up pennies. That’s right. Lowly pennies. Hundreds of pennies. I bring them home, and I put them in a bright red box. I will mix in my loose nickels and dimes from my pockets, my wallet, and from under the couch cushions. And over time, the box of money fills, until it really does weigh about fix pounds. Then I lug it to my neighborhood Lucky Store where the friendly CoinStar machine welcomes me. I dump in the coins and convert them to cash.
It’s never a huge amount of cash. But it’s cash. And collecting all those pennies, which most people don’t feel are worth the effort to pick up, helps me hone my awareness. What else are other people overlooking? What resources are already within my grasp that can help me make my film? Even if I feel impoverished, I have talents, tools, and the good, green Earth to support my creative efforts. Believing this helps ground me and inspire me at the same time. By practicing this ritual, I remind myself that I can achieve anything, make any film, reach any goal that I can dream of.
And so can you.