When I was young, growing up at home, my mother always gave me great advice. One of the many nuggets she shared with me was not to sweat the petty stuff. I still remember her saying, “my little freddie spaghetti-o, it’s always better not to sweat the petty.” She explained that by not wasting unnecessary thought on things not important, allowed the mind to expand and focus on things that were. I very much appreciated that advice and try still to practice that even though it’s an ongoing process. In other words, let go of the insignificant. The challenge is, at times, determining what is and isn’t significant.
In practical terms, pennies have gotten to be insignificant and petty (to the general public) — as they’ve been now for a couple of decades. The fact that we still use them is dumb and not efficient. Years ago many mini-markets kept penny trays by the cash register to eliminate the need for the cashier (and customer) to constantly change pennies. In New York, the penny tray seems to have turned into tip jars where pennies, nickels and dimes are joined with dollar bills. However, when nickels and dimes started appearing in the penny trays, it became evident (to me) that many thought they too, had become insignificant.
Seeing pennies on the street is commonplace. Who stops and picks up pennies anymore? It’s not too uncommon now to see nickels and dimes. Got to admit, I’ll still pick up a nickel or dime. In fact, the other day as I was walking down 6th Ave, a shiny tail-sided dime eyed me. In an instant, I slowed, stopped, thought about a pirouette, but simply bent over slowly on one foot, lifting the other leg parallel to the crowded sidewalk, keeping the core tight, back straight, and while bent over, picked up the thin dime that was staring, hind side, up at me. Was it insignificant? One could argue that I had enriched myself with a quick balance and stabilization exercise.
Back in my more serious weight lifting days in San Francisco, I usually worked out with a good friend of mine (still is). Marc was and is 6 ft 5 inches, 225 lean pounds. He could easily have been a linebacker in pro football. From time to time, he used to spot this other guy we knew — a typical huge body builder with arms larger than most people’s legs. One time when the guy had so many 45 pound plates on each side of the barbell performing an incredible bench press, I asked him if he was going to throw on dimes and try another set. (in a gym, barbell plates are called nickels, dimes and quarters referring to 5, 10, 25 pound plates). The guy looked at me with a sneer and said, “I don’t fu*k with nickels and dimes.” (he threw quarters on and did another rep).
For the last few months, the left side of my tongue has been swollen and tingling. It’s non-stop. The question is whether I need to turn this ongoing sensation into the insignificant. It is so bothersome, to the point of sometimes making speech a challenge. But it’s constant. I’m trying to reconcile how to turn this into my own nickels and dimes. How do I make it insignificant when it wants to be significant?
I very much appreciate that advice from mom years ago. Whether it’s empty emails, hearing occasional gossip, those little nonsense thoughts that pop in, or just talking nonsense, (or tongue tingling), discarding the petty can lighten the emotional load. Not listening or paying attention to the insignificant can be alleviating. But I guess each one of us must determine our own value of those nickels and dimes.