A penny for your thoughts

24 12 2012

Transitions are great times to be reflective. And no – that wasn’t a geek joke. OK – perhaps it was… sometimes I think physics would have been so much more fun at school if I was teaching it.

Whether it’s leaving high school; getting married; getting divorced even; having a child; losing a friend or relative; the end of a millennium… or even the drawing to a close of a “normal” year – the perceived leaving behind of one state and the contemplation of the opportunities ahead seems to be a natural time for us to be a little introspective and contemplative. But Auld Land Syne is just an excuse to drink – let’s be fair! And while we’re at it – what’s that iPhone bagpipes App all about FFS?!

As I walked the dog this morning, in the rainy We(s)t Coast of BC, I was in quite a good mood. A great friend and ex-colleague always quipped that I wasn’t truly happy unless I was miserable, so this good mood was worthy of self-exploration as the rain dripped off my nose.

2012 was certainly an eventful year. I changed jobs – leaving my old employer only a few weeks before the annual bonus was awarded. I like to think I do things because it’s right, not because it’s necessarily advantageous to me. I recently watched a TED talk about the shame question around abortion. Worth a few minutes of your life, no matter which side of the debate you stand on: http://bit.ly/WBoCwb

Anyway, it taught me a couple of things: (i) even great thinkers can over-simplify and (ii) the wartime king of Denmark was my kind of person!

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller

Ms Cannold is very careful to show nothing but respect for Niemöller in her TED talk, but points out that though the self-preservation argument is sound (if I don’t stand up for you, why would you stand up for me?) it is not enough. She points to Pricess Di’s stance in the early days of AIDS awareness. Making a public, positive stance and embracing (literally) people who were suffering from HIV and full-blown AIDS. De-stigmatising the disease and making it acceptable to talk about. De-shaming it. Allowing sensible debate and research available to everyone.

Source BBC: 1989: Diana opens Landmark Aids Centre

And then Cannold mentioned the king of Denmark, who allegedly took a moral stance during the war. (Funny, don’t you think? “The” war! There have been so many before and since…). When Hitler demanded the Danes should force Jews to wear yellow stars, he is alleged to have said “sure – along with me and every other Dane”. According to Snopes – the myth busters, this isn’t actually true, but it is true that King Christian X of Denmark and Denmark as a nation did indeed protect many Jews during this particularly loathsome era of European history. Can you imagine the cojones it would take to do that? With no way of knowing what the reaction might be? Just because it was the right thing to do. Now that, dear reader gets my attention.

So – this walk in the park I was mentioning. It was wet and miserable this morning – hence my good mood, I suppose. The local park has several benches overlooking the duck ponds. On less damp occasions, or when people just don’t give a shit and need a rest, they are occupied by the gentle folk of White Rock watching the world go by. My dog on the other hand likes to pee up them. As she performed this doggy version of Twitter (I just went to the park – sniff me sometime!) I noticed that someone had left two pennies on the lower brace of the bench. Sure enough there were two on the other side too. I prodded with a finger to make sure they weren’t glued on (the difference between a statement and a prank).

Ha – so this got me thinking. What was the statement? I have too many coins in my pocket? If you really need a penny take it? Art? Interesting…

As I walked around the ponds I found the same “installation” on every bench but one. Here’s Spiketta the devil-dog guarding the last but one bench…

What're you looking' at?

Anyway, I returned home in fine spirits, ultimately pleased that I felt loved by those I love, and satisfied with most if not strictly all the choices I had made in 2012. And someone out there was doing weird, unexplained stuff in my manor because they felt like it. I like it that I’m not the only one.

Here’s wishing you a great 2013, and comfort in the choices you’ll make, still ahead of you…

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2 responses

25 12 2012
Of Feta and Pennies « Quieter Elephant

[…] you may recall I mentioned a local wag leaving pennies around on the park benches yesterday. I was out in the Christmas Day snow this morning, walking the dog […]

30 11 2013
On the nature of humans… | Quieter Elephant

[…] Some local wit had placed about a dozen Christmas-tree baubles on various otherwise sparse trees around the ponds. Nothing too outlandish. No tinsel, for example. No garish lights as the municipality chooses to use elsewhere. Just one bauble per chosen tree, evenly spaced around the park. Yet somehow, these cheap dollar-store ornaments were uplifting as I trudged around in the rain. Someone had thought to do it. Do something unexpected. Worthy of note (at least by me). A bit like when soon-to-be-obsolete pennies appeared on the park benches. […]

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