Monday, September 6, 2010

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Cliches are a rich part of our common dialect. Frequently they roll off our tongues with little thought as to their deeper meaning, much less origins. Yet we find them appropro when wedged between a thought and what we hope to convey. (For a rather exhaustive list of them, check out this link.)



"A penny for your thoughts" has long been a personal favorite. There's a reason for that, which I'll share in a few more sentences. For now, let's just consider from where it was derived.

Means: "What's on your mind?" Spoken typically to someone who's looking pensive. The saying is from a time when the British penny was worth a significant sum. It was in 1522 that Sir Thomas More wrote: "It often happith, that the very face sheweth the mind walking a pilgrimage, in such wise that other folk soldainly say to them: 'A penny for your thougth?' ." (From the Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers)

By today's calculations, a penny is hardly worth the bother. It's value is of so little consequence that it buys little more than space in one's purse. Even "penny candy" is a misnomer. There's no longer a special row in the candy isle for such items!

But we see from history that that was not always the case. A penny had value; and significant value at that! Thus it was no insult to offer one for something as dear and precious as a thought.

Afterall, we are was we think; and what we think is informed by what resides in our hearts.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in his heart. For out of the overflow (abundance) of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

I was but a child of 16 when the "Penny for your thoughts" cliche formed the question that was on my mind.

Terry and I had been dating (which consisted mostly of meeting up at school on Friday nights for football games) for several months - high school sweethearts - and it was only days following the deaths of both our fathers (they died ten days apart; mine from a lengthy battle with Leukemia; his suddenly, from a heart attack), when we found ourselves sitting alone, attempting to make some sense of the losses that grieved our hearts.

I could see that his mind was pre-occupied so distant was his gaze. I was clueless to it's focus, though I thought he might be pondering the pain of loss that had become our common denominator in those days. I asked: "A penny for your thoughts".

In the lifetime we've lived together since, I have not forgotten those words - either my question to him, or his response to it: I was just thinking about how much I love you.

The rest is history, and worth far more than pennies ... I can assure you.

Now, whenever I feel pensive, or whenever I look upon someone else who is, I remember that it just might signal a "mind walking a pilgrimage." It is then hat I hope each final destination is rooted in love. Priceless.

The world we have created is a product of our thinking;
it cannot be changed until we change our thinking.
Albert Einstein

15 comments:

Linda Hoye said...

What a beautiful and moving post. I will think of this whenever I hear "a penny for your thoughts" spoken!

Debbie said...

This was a really good post. I especially liked.."Afterall, we are was we think; and what we think is informed by what resides in our hearts." It is just sooo true...Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day...Hugs, Debbie

Sonja said...

ahhhh... how precious was this 'penny'... a beautiful story!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Love... a thought worth articulating. Accordingly, my penny's worth of thinking in your direction...

I love you.

peace~elaine

Technonana said...

Beautifully written.. have said that often... and waited on a truthful reply.
Today my thoughts turned to those who are no longer in the work force but long to be so that they can support their families, and those who are struggling in this economy...
"as a man thinks... so he is.."

Beth E. said...

Awww...I love this! Bill and I are also high school sweethearts.

This is a very touching story, Kathleen. Even through the grief of losing your fathers, love conquered all.

Beautiful!

Hugs...

Diana said...

Great post!!! BTW, just a random thought....... I never pass over a penny--will always pick it up when I find one.

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh that choked me up!! First both your fathers died so closely and then he tells you he loves you like that. YOU need to write romance!

beBOLDjen said...

Sweet story. It's nice to be pleasantly surprised when others share their thoughts with us.

I thought about cliches and figures of speech often in Ethiopia. We don't realize how often we rely on them until we're dealing with people who speak limited English. Things like "they are sitting on my paperwork," "dragging their feet," etc., were all expressions I'd use without thinking and have to quickly retrace my steps when I received funny looks. hahaha

Just a little something from Judy said...

What a heartwarming love story, and what a special way to tell the story. While I was reading it the thought entered my mind of how many people never have anyone to offer them "a penny for their thoughts". This post encouraged me to take time to listen to others thoughts, to inquire about what they are thinking. Just think of how blessed you were when you inquired and then found out what was on your man's mind. Once again, you left me inspired with this thought provoking post.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

No wonder you love that saying! It holds so much romance. I'm sure both of you experienced a measure of healing at that special moment.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Stuff could always be worse said...

Oh what a good thought, a penny for them. I liked your name.
kim

Deborah Ann said...

It's amazing the memories and images that come to mind when we think of something as simple as a penny! For you, it speaks of romance. For me...the simple days of childhood. The penny is not worth much at all today, but the old copper pennies are worth about 5 times as much! The journey of the penny is really something...

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

How precious...how sweet! Thanks for sharing. I will think of this when I see a penny!

LisaShaw said...

Aww, this is PRECIOUS!!