With all the chaos, turmoil, and just “bad news” that we are saturated with every day, and seemingly every minute of every day, it’s no wonder that people look for an escape… even if that escape is only the “fantasy” of discovering a long-lost hoard of gold, silver, and jewels. Wouldn’t it be nice to unearth a chest so valuable that you could leave all the chaos and turmoil behind and just live in peace, not worrying about what is happening across the country or around the world? Sure it would. I think we all would “take the money and run.” If only it were that easy. A lot of people, though, find that the “hunt” of discovering a treasure provides just such as escape, and is not at all out of reach… depending of course on what your treasure is.
If “treasure” to you means one of Captain Kidd’s buried chests of pirate booty, then you may have a long hard search ahead of you (although such a worthy endeavor would certainly provide an escape into the world of treasure hunting). If, however, your “treasure” is time spent in the outdoors along a river, at a beach, a park, the mountains, or underwater, and your discovery consists of discarded relics, dropped coins, or evidence of history you’ve seen or held for the first time, then your search is likely to be fruitful and satisfying.
I cannot tell you what your “treasure” is. Only you can do that. I can, however, tell you what my “treasure” is. My treasure is discovery. My treasure is putting pieces of a historical puzzle together. My treasure is being where history happened and reliving the events attached to the ground. My treasure is not just identifying where something happened, but why it happened. I see history, not just as a collection of names, dates, places, and events, but as a connected series of causes and effects. There is probably no better example of this cause and effect relationship to history than the Battle of Gettysburg.
Being at that battlefield… where countless lives were forever changed or extinguished… walking the grounds in the footsteps of those soldiers brings the ground to life. I can feel the motivations that moved troops this way instead of that. Feel the desperation to capture ground, out maneuver your pursuers, and survive. Like no other place I’ve been, The Gettysburg Battlefield saturates you. This is what motivates me no matter where I go, and no matter what I’m searching for. When I evaluate the ground, find evidence of the event and “relive” the actions, I’ve found my treasure. And if I locate a trinket of the event, I get a true emotional boost from my efforts. I’m here to tell you, that you will get a sense of elation from finding a ox shoe from the mid-to-late 1800’s along an old pioneer wagon trail. It provides a connection… a sense of belonging… of roots. Sure, finding a box of money would be fantastic. But, just because I didn’t find that box… this time… doesn’t take away the feelings of accomplishment and connection that the old ox shoe provides. And the thing is anyone… everyone… no matter where you live… can participate in this “treasure hunt.”
In our over-regulated world, there is a substantial and vocal segment of the population bent on depriving you of the opportunity to discover, to search for your treasure. They have passed laws, regulated activities, prevented access, and labeled treasure hunters and treasure hunting with derogatory labels. In some places, just being there is “breaking a law.” Picking up discarded objects is a crime. Participating in work to recover gold, silver, and in some cases rocks and minerals is cause to “call in the law.” Two really simple things you can do are: 1) Obey whatever laws currently regulate an area, and 2) lend your support (voice, written, whatever) to prevent, modify, or repeal these outrageous regulations, and bring back reason and a sense of sanity.
Everywhere, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, pioneers, travelers, and adventurers of every kind sought new ground and a new life. Armies moved from here to there. Towns were built that were abandoned and crumbled to dust. But, the history is there. The evidence is there. Find the evidence; live the history; find your treasure. And if you happen to search for and find that box of money… don’t forget to share!