Giving Thanks For The Dollar

Photo: YinYang

Today I woke up with the question, “What can I get for $1 today in the U.S.?” It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s so much more than many people have right now. Like the man down the street who sits on the corner every weekday with a sign that says, “Need Food.” The sign has changed over the past six months. When I first spotted him, his sign said, “Out of Work. Need Money.” Now, as the economy has gotten worse and jobs have gotten scarcer, he just needs the basics. Food. Water. Maybe shelter. I’m not sure he even has that. It looks like he’s living out of his backpack. For that man, a dollar could mean the difference between eating today or not. For people living in developing countries, a buck can mean two or three meals for an entire family.

Still, in the Western world, a single dollar can still buy more than we think. For instance, it can buy:

  • A cup of steaming hot tea at the independent coffee shop down the street and the chance to build community with a small business owner.
  • A couple of bananas at the fruit and veggie stand and an opportunity to support a local farmer.
  • A single card at the dollar store and a way to let someone I love know how much I love them.
  • A pen and a small notebook so I can jot my thoughts down as I stroll down the street.
  • A single carnation at the grocery store and a way to brighten someone’s day.
  • A small bag of yogurt-covered pretzels from the bulk foods section at Whole Foods.
  • A copy of Real Change, the newspaper for and by homeless people in Seattle.

These seem like minor things, but the fact that I have them available to me in my local neighborhood seems major compared to what’s available in other places. It makes me thankful that I was born in a country that offers such luxuries and that I can enjoy them for so little, relatively speaking. Of course, the things that mean the most don’t cost a dime:

  • An evening hanging out with my friends.
  • A walk in the woods.
  • A hug from someone I love.
  • Laughing so hard my sides hurt.
  • A bicycle ride through the neighborhood.
  • An email message from a friend.
  • A moment of quiet found during a meditation.
  • A meaningful conversation with someone I just bumped into.

Today I feel gratitude that I have that dollar. Maybe it’s the season or maybe it’s being in the U.S. Maybe it’s both. In a world that seems so often filled with anger, frustration and fear, it feels good to know what to value and to feel grateful for what I have. So now, in this moment, I’m taking the time to say thanks.

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