Ashland: The streets are paved in gold!


Maybe a year or so ago, I began a new practice, with the intention of living in a money-manifesting mindset.

When I was a child, I had learned from my mother that her father believed in always picking up pennies from the sidewalk. (“Some people think they are above picking up small change. Not me: every cent I get is a cent more than I had before!”)

I understood and appreciated the sentiment. I have happily picked up sidewalk change throughout my life. Besides, “See a penny, pick it up/All the day you’ll have good luck,” right?

But within the last year or so, I decided to shift my attitude toward change on the sidewalk. I decided to mentally note it, smile about its existence, and walk on, leaving it for someone else to enjoy and/or pick up. I do it with the trust that I don’t need to “pinch these pennies” because I am living a life of abundance. Now, when I see change on the sidewalk, I say out loud to myself, “The streets are paved in gold!” which always brings a smile of delight to my face. I imagine that I am walking through an enchanted land, living an enchanted life.

Since I’ve begun this practice—and especially since I dreamed up this bike journey a year ago—I’ve been amazed at how much sidewalk change I have encountered. In fact, just a few days before my departure from Portland, I saw a silver half-dollar! I was floored (when do you ever even see those, in any kind of circulation?) and I briefly considered making an exception and picking it up. I mean… a half-dollar!! I wouldn’t even spend it. I would carry it as a sort of talisman, to remind myself of the abundance in the world.

But… I didn’t. I realized that I already have many reminders of the abundance of the world, and I didn’t need to carry around a bulky coin. Besides, doing so would kind of violate the entire principle I’d chosen. Further, if I left it, someone else would get to marvel at seeing it on the sidewalk, and either enjoy taking it for themselves, or leave it for yet another person to appreciate.

Now, since I’ve been on the road, only one or two days of cycling have transpired in which I haven’t seen at least one coin on the road (often in the bike lane) if not two or three. It is kind of amazing how many “magical” coins there are out there, and I love enjoying them in this way; it reminds me that my needs are abundantly met, both on this journey and in general.


Today in Ashland, after a delicious breakfast from the legendary co-op deli, I was on my way to meet a new friend for a walk in Lithia Park (sooo gorgeous!) when what should I see on the sidewalk but a $20 bill.


The streets here in Ashland really are paved in gold!!

Once again, I briefly considered picking it up. I mean, $20! I could get a couple meals for that. As I’ve been buying food most days, a nagging voice in the back of my head has been saying, “You know, you don’t have a steady income anymore.”

That voice of fear played in my head for a few seconds as I beheld the note at my feet.

But then I thought, No! My needs will continue to be joyfully and abundantly met on this journey. And besides, whoever dropped that bill will probably return to find it. I would hate for them to have lost it permanently. Or, heck, someone else who really needs the money might come by. They could take it.

As these thoughts played in my head, a man walked past and glanced at the money, then at me: “It’s your lucky day!”

He was foregoing it too, encouraging me to take it.

I didn’t.

Another man walked by and saw me happily taking the photo of it, and misinterpreted my crouching action to mean that I had actually left that bill there as a random act of kindness. He was so happy to think that, he yelled, “That’s awesome! I’m going to get some money to add to it! Can I take a photo of you?” He moved toward his car to grab some money to add to the “pot.” When I explained the actual situation, he seemed mildly disappointed (and apparently decided not to add to it) but still found the scenario delightful, and crouched with his own phone to take a video, narrating that he had seen me walking by, and pointing the camera at me to illustrate, so I waved to his possible viewers. We smiled and waved and I walked on, tickled by the whole thing.

After I had walked just a few more steps, he called out to me, pointing at another man who had just walked out of the shop that faced the sidewalk: “It’s his! He dropped it!”

We all grinned as the original owner was reunited with his legal tender.

I walked on, and soon enjoyed a wonderful hike through the whole length of the park.

Afterward, I got another deli meal at the co-op, and then checked out another natural-food store in town, which I always enjoy. On the way there, I appreciated yet another dedicated bike path (I’m finding them in nearly every city, large and small) and passed a nestled cemetery bathed in glorious late-afternoon light.

On the way back, I marveled at the view of the sunlight hitting the hills outside of town. I found another neighborhood park, near the hostel, and relaxed there on a bench until the sun went down. A woman walked by and glanced at my Brompton, sitting upright on the path.

“Lock up your bike,” she said with a smile.

This confused me a bit, since the park was nearly empty and the bike was directly in front of me.

“In general, you mean?”

“Yes. My bike just got stolen from this park.”

“Oh my god! I’m so sorry! Wow…”

She smiled: “It’s okay! Everyone is reacting that way, but it’s really okay. I think I’ll get it back, because it’s an e-bike and it can only go about 30 miles on a charge. We’ve had a lot of joyride-type bike thefts in Ashland recently, and the bikes often get recovered. I’m out looking now, and I’ve told my friends and the police to keep an eye out.”

“Wow… okay, well, I hope you find it.”

“Me too, but you know what? If I don’t, it’s okay: my insurance will pay me for it and I’ll just get an even better one! I’m not worried.”

I liked her attitude. She was living from a place of trust that everything would work out.

Me too, these days; it’s another of the themes of my trip.

I told her about my journey, and handed her my card. (Park lady, if you’re reading this now, hi!) She loved the idea of my trip, and we talked about it for a few minutes before she continued on to search the park for the bike, and I hopped back on mine to head back to the hostel.

It’s going to be okay. The streets are paved in gold.

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2 thoughts on “Ashland: The streets are paved in gold!”

  1. What a wonderful story!

    I can’t imagine seeing a 20 on the sidewalk and not immediately grasping it, assuming it’s there for me, or just as much for me as anyone, and even feeling vaguely like I would be taking my survival needs for granted if I just left it there.
    I love your trusting attitude.
    I think I’ve been “worried about money” my entire life — certainly my entire adult life, and things have always worked out. Sometimes in what has felt like miraculous ways. You wrote: “My needs will continue to be joyfully and abundantly met on this journey.”
    That is a wonderful affirmation for me as well, Maren. “this journey” for me is my journey of life, and my needs HAVE always been abundantly met. (Insofar as they haven’t been met “joyfully,” that’s not the universe’s fault!)
    Thank you for this precious reminder of living in trust, not grasping, keeping in mind we are not just individual cells making our way through an indifferent world … we are all connected, all part of the same matrix of life. Beautiful stuff, Maren!

    1. I love all this, Marc! Thanks for your detailed responses and self-exploration here. Yes, I do find that it’s a conscious practice for me to not be “worried about money” (even though, like you, I generally have not ever lacked in significant ways). I’m glad my talking about gently stretching myself can be an encouragement in that direction for you, or other readers.

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