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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Price

The Six Cents

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

My maternal grandfather was literally the father of and wrote the textbook on Contact Dermatitis. Not only was he the leading expert in his profession, but he was also a master of puns and wordplay. I am proud to have inherited the same passion. My cousin Karin and I often bat around puns until one of us hits it out of the ballpark or strikes out.

Though my occupation in employee benefits is less lofty than my grandfather’s, the power of words and how they are st

rung together to form an answer to a question or think through an explanation. In fact, I have often devised new and better explanations of employee benefits, when an employee did not understand my initial explanation. I recently listened to Dr. Adam Grant’s Think Again on audible. I was riveted as he detailed the impact and value about pushing pause on the thought process and how that expand the possibilities for decisions and discourse. This blog isn’t a book review but the research and explanations he shares in the book got me – well – thinking.

I’ve always been a thinker. Not one of the great or even so-so thinkers but my mind is always going. One person close to me defines it as worrying. I can neither confirm nor deny that some of my thinking is worrying. For me, thinking is processing, preparing, considering. Regarding this person who is “close to me”, he’s now 21 and I no longer have the authority to send him to his room or ground him with no video games, but his point is well taken. What if I had suggested he ask me “I’ll give you a penny for your thoughts” to shift the conversation to the action of thinking rather than the content of what I was thinking about? On the flip side (pun intended), if I had a nickel for every time my son told me that I worried too much, I wouldn’t be rich, but I might have $100.

Merriam Webster defines “routine” as “a regular course of procedure” and “habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure”. I interpret this to mean that a routine ropes in thinking. We can’t think about everything at the same time, so having a routine, can help reduce the things that we think about.

Though I have not a single ounce of musical ability, I love music, especially song lyrics. I think a lot about song lyrics. Three of my favorite songs are about thinking and perspective. It’s funny as I prepared to type out the three songs, I was going to comment that none of the three were Billy Joel songs (I’m from Long Island, he’s in my blood). I realized that two of my favorite Bill Joel songs are, in fact, about thinking. While “Summer Highland Falls” and “Vienna” make me swoon, I’m going to focus on the other three, in chronological order of when I became familiar with the songs. I encourage you to listen to each of the songs on YouTube or similar.

  • Harry Chapin’s “Flowers are Red” was on the first CD I ever bought as I moved my cassette tape collection to CDs. I was a senior in college, alas dating myself.

  • Kenny Roger’s “The Greatest” is a companion song to a book of the same name by Don Schiltz. Someone gave my ex-husband and me this book when our son was born. It quickly became a favorite. The song may or may not still be the ringtone I use for my 21 year old son.

  • The Avett Brother’s “Headful of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” may be familiar to you from Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company commercials. The Avett Brothers are tied with Billy Joel as my favorite musicians. I hope the band plays the song at one of the two nights I’m seeing them at Wolftrap in Northern Virginia over Memorial Day weekend.

The power of lyrics encourages me to consider my current views, their application to the world around me, and their ability to impact my thinking.

The thing about thinking so much, is that some thoughts will come to be. It sometimes feels like I have a sixth sense. Though I’ll also have six cents by getting a penny for a thought and a nickel for a recurring thought. Does that make sense?

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