My grandmother used to tell me if I picked up all the pennies I found and didn’t spend them, I’d be a millionaire one day. When I was little, I followed her advice and kept my eyes on the pavement, searching for shiny copper coins. When did I stop looking down and start looking forward? And how much did I miss along the way?
This weekend my husband and I drove down to Manteo on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a quick getaway. Saturday, a gloriously sunny day, we went to Pea Island so I could add to my collection of seashells. You can’t be in a hurry if you are looking for shells, and you definitely have to keep your head down. I was meticulous as I examined shell after shell to see if it were worthy of my collection. After we had walked half a mile at a snail’s pace, we started back the other way, and I was astonished at how many beautiful shells I missed on my first pass. I looked all around me at the sunshine on the water, the tiny birds with twig legs racing across the sand, the rivulets created by the wind on the dunes. I stood still and breathed in this most amazing day.
It made me think of how much time I spend looking forward to events: the next wedding, the next trip out of town, the family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it’s important to look down once in awhile and see what is right before me. In the words of the great philosophers Simon and Garfunkel, “Slow down, you move too fast.” So just for today, I vow to look down and not forward. I will see what is right in front of my eyes and all around me. Maybe that’s what Grandma meant about how to be rich.