Wednesday in Greensboro, NC, was a snow-birds weather dream day. The sky was a tranquil blue with a touch of clouds. The temperature hovered in the 70’s, and there was a velvet touch breeze. Overall, a fantastic February winter day.
The gorgeous brightly lit sky, and heaven sent weather, made my decision to take a walk around the college campus easy.
I could not resist the call to continue every time I considered shortening my walk. Instead of turning right and doing the 1.5 mile route, I tentatively decided stay on campus a little longer.
My intention during the walk was to focus on keeping my mind clear and noticing my seldomly observed surroundings.
I saw a shiny object on the ground about 100 steps into my new route. This contrasting piece of zinc boldly stood out against the white concrete sidewalk. I looked at it, and quickly debated if I should pick it up. Keep going was the initial response. So I took two lengthy steps away from the object, then did an about-face and retrieved it.
“A penny,”I uttered to myself. Then a funny thought sprouted in my mind. The voice said, “a penny for your thought.” Right then I began to wonder where the phrase came from, and what it meant.
The phrase “a penny for your thought” dominated the remainder of my 25 minute walk. I did some quick research when I returned to my office.
It appears the exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but this is what is known. In 1546, guy name John Heywood penned a wordy titled book known as “A dialogue conteinying the nomber in effect of all the proverbs in the Englishe tongue.” The title was shortened to “The Proverbs of John Heywood,” in later publications — smart move. That was the first time the phrase “a penny for your thought” appeared in print. So Heywood gets the slap on the back.
I know, I digressed. Now back to the story. I’m sure a penny was very valuable in the 15oo’s. Today, a single penny makes a good golf ball marker, or a cheap donation at a local convenience store.
Thinking about the declining value of the penny, and the “a penny for your thought” phrase got me to realize something. Sometimes my thought(s) might hold a lot of value, and other times my thought(s) might be “worthless.” My positive, encouraging, growth-oriented thought(s) are priceless. My negative, life sucking thought(s) are as valuable as the penny.
I eventually start to reflect on the last time someone said “a penny for your thought” to me. My brain went into overdrive trying to find an answer. It could not recall when I was offered a penny for my thought.
That was a humbling exercise.
In reality, I know my thoughts, or the thoughts of anyone reading this blog article, are more valuable than a penny. Yet, maybe the phrase “a penny for your thought” holds a different message.
That phrase could be a hidden piece of wisdom. Maybe it was a polite way of saying “quiet, please.”