Rodney M Bliss

The Five Talismans And What They Mean To Me

1. a stone, ring, or other object, engraved with figures or characters supposed to possess occult powers and worn as an amulet or charm.
2. any amulet or charm.
3. anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.

They don’t have magical powers and certainly not occult powers, but they do exercise a powerful influence on the actions and feelings of at least one human: me.

I was teaching a class to a group of teenagers. I was trying to explain symbols and their importance in our society. Things like the flag, the scales of justice, the Statue of Liberty. Things that symbolized something. I realized that I was carrying five items that were symbolic to me. I talked about a few of them and then asked my co-teacher if he had anything like them that he carried.

No, Rodney. Not a single thing.

It made me think the symbols I had chosen to assign value to and use as touchstones in my life. As a rational person, I know that they are just bits of metal and stone. There is nothing magical about them. As a person of faith, I know that supernatural power comes from a Higher Being, not a piece of metal, no matter how precious it might be.

But, as an emotional being, these five things are immensely valuable to me. Literally, beyond price. While the metal in each one is either base or precious, their value is not in what I could get in exchange for them, but what they symbolize. I’ll talk about them a little this week.

#1 The Coin

You’ve probably never seen this coin before. They are very rare. In fact only about 200 of them were ever struck. The obverse says,


The reverse has these words,


It’s a coin struck by my friend Howard Tayler. Informally it’s called the “Minion” coin. Howard’s wife and business partner, Sandra organizes the operations side of their business. She occasionally calls for volunteers. It’s a highly sought after role, to be able to help them during a big shipping event. These helpers are informally called “Sandra’s Minions.”

Howard created many coins to accompany his Schlock Universe storylines. In-universe they are challenge coins. There are coins for each ship. There are coins for Tagon’s Toughs, the primary para-military unit he writes about. There are silly coins. There are more serious coins. You can buy them at his website. You can buy all but one. The minion coin cannot be bought. It can only be awarded.

Among Howard’s fans, the orange and white Tagon’s Toughs coin is a status symbol. The lower your number, the more prestigious. I own number 789 from the third series. (Not a particularly low number.) The theory is, although I’ve never seen it in practice, that if two Schlock Mercenary fans meet at a bar, they can show their Tagon’s Toughs coin and the one with the higher number treats the other fan to a beverage of their choice. Series two coins beat series three. Series one coins beat series two and the smaller the number the better. Howard carries a coin with a single digit. From the three series, there are 3000 Tagons Toughs coins.

The theory also says that a Minion coin trumps all others. I carry mine at all times. I’m not sure I’ve ever even shown it to another Schlock Mercenary fan.

But, it’s not the hope of one day winning a Diet Coke that keeps the coin in my pocket. The fact that it is rare isn’t why I find it valuable. It’s the fact that my friend gave it to me. Howard and I have known each other since before he ever started doodling a comic every day and giving it away for free on the internet. In fact, we’ve known each other since before there really was an internet. We all meet people in the course of our lives. Be it at work, or church, or just in the neighborhood. Most of these chance meetings last as long as we maintain a physcial proximity. We move, or they move. Someone leaves the company.

Occasionally relationships stick. In those cases, our relationship is no longer defined by the roles we each play (coworker, neighbor, fellow parishioner.) Instead, our relationshp is defined by our friendship. I’m not sure when Howard and I became friends. It was long after we met. In fact, it was long after he started Schlock Mercenary. It may have been around the time his first book came out and I was in a position to help promote it. It may have also been around the time I made one of the worst business decisions in my life and Howard provided support both financial, but more importantly emotional, as I worked to get back on my feet.

The coin acknowledges that I have volunteered to help Hypernode Media. (Howard and Sandra’s business.) But, it symbolizes the importance of friendship and being willing to sacrifice for others. It’s a constant reminder not only that the Taylers are there to support and help me, but so are others. And just as there are those willing to help me, it also reminds me that I need to help others. Not for recognition, but because it’s what good people do. So, mostly it’s a reminder to be that good person.

This is the first of a five part series on the talismans I value. 

#1 The Coin
#2 The Lapel Pin
#3 The Masonic ring
#4:  The Tie Bar
#5: The Ring

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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