Friday, February 17, 2017

What you see is what you get."

Image result for In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard penny
In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard has just finished telling her readers about a childhood game of hers in which she would hide pennies for other people to find -- emblematic of her later work as a writer -- when she moves on to reflect on the significance of seeing (or failing to see) discarded pennies on the ground:

"It is still the first week in January and I've got great plans. I've been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But -- and this is the point -- who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded with the site of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get."

--Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Collins, 2007), 17.