by Tania Flores and Oliver Wong
People inhabit the Earth. These simple, inconsequential creatures mow lawns, collect knick-knacks, walk aimlessly, climb trees (sometimes even fall out of them), and bleed. Some people throw things, such as footballs, fits, and paper airplanes. They might also read books, pick flowers, or join gangs.
People love to run around and dance, create music and harmony. But they also enjoy making bombs and destroying lives. And for some unfathomable reason, they hardly ever use public pay phones anymore. People are obsessed with discovering the unknown, they are afraid to make mistakes, foolishly think that pillars can make them strong. They drink water, blow up balloons, laugh, and learn to recycle. Some people smoosh themselves under vending machines, others contract diseases. People create cures, and support groups. Sometimes people trip and fall flat on their faces, and sometimes they catch themselves before they make that fatal downward plunge. People tend to embarrass themselves more often than not, but they learn to laugh at themselves later in life.
People fly kites, have sex, and buy water. They enjoy light, and shy away from darkness. They pay lots of money for exotic bananas, and then they discard the banana peels. People do yoga, make friends and frenemies. They come together to support each other in times of badness. People create and collaborate. They have an innate desire to nurture and plant things. People talk to each other, or hide in their own solidarity. People create family, and most people tend to wear clothes. People like to feel a sense of self-fulfillment and purpose.
Oh look, here’s a penny! People dismiss pennies as insignificant, and people often feel insignificant themselves. After all, we are 435 students of life in a waxing world of 7 billion. And that makes our class add up to a grand total of… $4.35. What can you honestly buy for $4.35? Not a whole lot.
But from this point on, each penny will change hands, add up to other sums, be dirtied and wiped clean. Some pennies will find themselves on the ground next to discarded banana peels, and then will be picked up and seen as lucky. Some will travel the world on paper airplanes. Some, slipped into the machinery of public pay phones, will be converted to conversation. Some will go toward the development of a cure, others to the sustenance of clean water. Some will be spent on sports and physical well-being. Some will try to make it into a world of glamour and fame, but will fall short and land under the vending machine, to be discovered at some later date. And some will be recycled to make new pennies.
It is these experiences that make each penny worth something; it is these experiences that define individuals, give people value. With them, we learn to appreciate the smaller, seemingly insignificant things and see ourselves in them, as well as in the whole, the sum.
To the class of ’09, we hope you spend your pennies wisely.