I watched a TV program last night about an adventurer and art collector named Forrest Fenn, a man in his 80s who reportedly hid a box full of treasure somewhere in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains about 5 years ago. Many have searched for Fenn’s treasure–and still search. Some claimed to have found it, which Fenn denies.
It’s almost impossible for anyone to avoid generalizing Fenn’s literal hoard of gold and other jewels, reputedly worth anywhere from 1 million to 3 million dollars, to a metaphorical sort of spiritual wealth. While almost every version of his story, at least as told by reporters and adventure show hosts, tends to emphasize the inner treasure of the soul in communion with nature, some treasure hunters pack up their belongings and trek all over the desert southwest in search of tangible riches–a pot of gold.
It reminds of E.B. White’s question, “What do our hearts treasure?” from his essay of the same title. And because even Fenn says part of his intent for hiding the treasure was to encourage families to explore wild nature, it also reminds me of White’s essay, “A Slight Sound at Evening,” on Thoreau’s book Walden, about which I’ll probably never find out much except from White, who said,
“If our colleges and universities were alert, they would present a cheap pocket edition of the book to every senior upon graduating, along with his sheepskin, or instead of it. Even if some senior were to take it literally and start felling trees, there could be worse mishaps…”
White also wrote that Thoreau prepared for his adventure in the woods by eating a woodchuck, observing that, “It is probably no harder to eat a woodchuck than to construct a sentence that lasts a hundred years.”
Fenn’s story also reminded me to search for my own little treasure, a Canadian penny (more accurately a one cent coin since a penny is technically considered British currency) which my wife found on a sidewalk on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when we there recently on an adventure of our own.
It was missing, of course, nowhere to be found. I looked through all of my pants pockets, in the laundry room, on the path from the laundry room to our closet, the floor under the hangars in our closet, until I happened to notice the piggy bank in the room where I usually practice mindfulness meditation.
Naturally I opened Piggy’s belly and quickly got absorbed in the hunt not just for the penny, but also for 22 state quarters, the minting of which began in 1999. In fact, the quarters hijacked my interest because I found out that some of them might be worth cold, hard cash–if they bore special flaws, errors in the minting process. Sena began hunting through the coins in her purse and soon we both were caught up in the fever of a real treasure hunt.
I got pretty excited once and called Sena in to examine a Maryland 2000 state quarter which I mistakenly thought had a rotated die error (which could be worth up to $50, nearly enough to purchase one of Forrest Fenn’s books). Alas, I discovered I had not checked it correctly.
But, oh, the excitement of the hunt…however brief!
Hope you’re enjoying Thanksgiving!