A few years ago, I was standing in my girlfriend’s kitchen, when something on the counter top caught my eye. Based on its size, shape and color, it only took my brain a few milliseconds to process what it was, an American nickel. However, this nickel was unique; it was scarred, cut, scratched, dinged, scraped, punctured, gouged, perforated, dented, scuffed and scoured. As I picked the nickel up for closer inspection, she explained that it had somehow made its way into the garbage disposal. After a few seconds in that garbage disposal, this ordinary, everyday nickel was transformed into something more, something symbolic.
While the date is lost forever, I can imagine how shiny and flawless this nickel must have looked the day it rolled off the assembly line at the federal mint. I’m sure its journey from the mint to the garbage disposal was anything but boring. Where had it been, what had it seen? Did anyone famous ever hold it? What was it used to purchase? Did it buy a gumball or help a college fund? Was it used to buy gasoline or did it sit idle in a kid’s piggy bank? Did a soldier earn it overseas or was it discovered on a beach with a metal detector? How many hands have held it? How many lives did it impact? There is no way to know the story of this nickel. The only thing we do know is that it’s seen far better days. It probably has been cherished, abused, appreciated and neglected. Regardless of its condition, its previous owners or the history of its use, one thing has always remained the same; it’s worth.
This nickel is worth just as much today as it was the day it rolled off that assembly line. Sure, the argument can be made that higher costs of living and climbing inflation rates surely impact what it can buy; but its worth remains unchanged. Whether I deposit it in a bank, use it to buy some candy, throw it in a wishing well or simply cherish it for its uniqueness, this nickel is still worth 5 cents. Jefferson’s face is scarred and the Latin inscription is far from legible, the date is long gone and the nickel finish is dull; but it’s still worth 5 cents. Its value has decreased but its worth remains unchanged.
This nickel, to me, represents the individual people who make up our world. Each person has a unique back-story, a tailored history and an exclusive tale of events. Each of us has walked exclusive paths of individuality, and while some of our stories may be similar, they are undoubtedly different in their own ways. Each of us has earned our battle scars in varying ways. While we share many experiences with others and touch the lives of the people close to us, only the individual knows the full story, much like this nickel. We all have worth, and all of our lives are just as important as they were the day we were born. The scars, cuts, scratches, dings, scrapes, punctures, gouges, perforations, dents, scuffs and scours are what make us who we are. While each of these affects us in varying ways, they do not subtract from who we are. Though our purposes differ and our paths diverge, our worth remains the same.