“Don’t Take Any Wooden Nickels”

As long as I can recall, my Dad advised, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” Ignored in my youth and brushed off with passing annoyance during college and my twenties, I felt wise beyond my years. I was no fool! However, I did not grasp the complexity or the meaningfulness of this adage until recently.

Me and Dad

Me and Dad.

Born in 1928, my Dad was a school-aged child growing up in rural South Carolina during the Great Depression. At that time, when the economy was unstable, wooden nickels were issued by banks needing to make change. Today, they are only tokens from the past. But for me, wooden nickels are a reminder of the inscribed versus inherent meaning of things and the value of knowing one’s audience.

Many times, adages, puns, idioms and proverbs aren’t grasped at first. No doubt, my Dad’s heartfelt advice did not create a connection with me then, but because of its unexpectedness in this day and age, and because of its repetition over the years, it stuck! It has led to provocation and revelation after two decades! I found a deeper truth.

Missing the mark by not connecting with an audience spells doom for interpreters. The likelihood of such a defeat is heightened when interpreters face non-captive audiences with varying ages. And although missing the mark by not creating opportunities for emotional and intellectual connections at the time of a program may seem unsuccessful, it isn’t. Adages, idioms, proverbs and puns, when used appropriately, may actually prove more enlightening for an audience as time passes.

At its heart, not taking any wooden nickels reminds me to be cautious in life, that there is more than what appears at face value, and that old sayings can be memorable cues for meaningful reflections in years to come.

Don’t be a fool this April Fool’s! Share your wisdom! Use an adage- an interpretive technique- so that others can discover deeper meaning!

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Categories: General, Interpretation tools | Leave a comment

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