In 1999 the US Mint launched the 50 State Quarters Program. My daughter was eight. Something about having a young child and the excitement of a new look to our old quarters got me to start saving the different states.
My daughter is blessed with a complete disinterest in material things. The special collectible coins meant nothing to her. When she was eight she did not place inherent value on things for sentimental reasons. It was actually quite refreshing. Such a value, must be a learned behavior and I had failed to impart it.
If I was going to get a case, I would need to get my daughter to buy into the idea. But, why would I do that? I took a moment and moved my mind forward fifty years. I imagined the entire coin collection in the future and its value. It wasn’t hard to do. I had coins that my parents and grandparents had given me. They were simply a burden. Something that I had to lug around every time I moved.
Why did I hang onto them? They were valuable – that is what my relatives had told me. In truth they were not worth very much at all. The reality is that my relatives had passed them on to me and I was carrying them in order to pass them onto the next generation. It is as if they had passed their values and hopes onto me and I had mindlessly accepted their burden.
There are countless values and beliefs that my relatives passed on to me. Some have had more damaging effects than the value of collectable coins. When I confronted myself, I found I really didn’t think saving coins was a worthwhile activity. I was merely holding that value as a way to honor my grandparents.
What I have found invaluable is to constantly question my motives for acting. It is amazing how much lighter I am now that I am getting rid of other people’s values and my habitual ways of acting. I am able to honor my grandparents without carrying their values, beliefs or things.
Those quarters are long gone. I stopped even looking at the new states as they came out. I no longer had a motive to spend my energy that way. My personal insight had set me free of an activity that did not really serve me.