Every now and again something will stand out to me and create in my mind a burst of philosophical thought. Sometimes I act on it — use it to teach myself or my kids something — but most times it just disappears and never resurfaces.
Today I had one of those thoughts.
I’ve just recovered from a bout of H1N1, which isn’t important other than while I was sick the last thing I wanted to drink was dark soda. Also not necessarily an issue here, except that my favorite drink in the world is Diet Coke. I’ve been healthy for three weeks now but dark soda still doesn’t hold much appeal, so when I get tired of water I go to the vending machines and get a can of Diet Sierra Mist.
My Diet Coke comes in a $1 20-ounce bottle; the Diet Sierra Mist comes in a 50-cent can. (We’re getting to the point, I promise.)
Today I took my dollar bill back to the vending area, bought my can of soda and brought the change back with me, two not-so-shiny quarters.
Just a bit ago I happened to glance over at the quarters, still sitting on my desk, and saw the top quarter was dingy, dirty, banged up and looking pretty worn. The ridges on the rim had been stripped, and Ol’ George was beginning to show his age.
Then I saw the date on the quarter: 1967. The same year I was born.
Am I looking that rough and worn? When people look at me, do they see someone who looks like she’s seen her fair share of tough times?
Then I had another thought: That quarter is still a quarter. It may look a little less shiny than the one it was sitting next to, but it’s no less valuable. Without that dingy quarter, the shiny one is nearly useless; together I could get another can of soda, a small bag of pretzels or an hour in a downtown parking space.
Sometimes I think we do the same thing to people we know, and those we don’t. We look only at the surface and dismiss them as being too old, too worn, too dingy. We forget the value we all still hold.