032. TREASURE HUNTING / by Cara Hines

Today is about treasure. I’m spending the afternoon in my beloved little apartment, going through what is left of the possessions I kept or accumulated after getting rid of my house and 95% of everything I owned just over two years ago. Piles are growing: what to leave stocked in my apartment for the renters who will be staying in my absence; what to take with me in my trailer; what things of sentiment I’ll move to my family’s Homeplace for safe keeping; what to discard, give away, or sell. I cannot properly convey how healing it’s been to live more simply with less these two years. The things I have, I know I have and why. I’m reevaluating some of them, but the process is proving an enjoyable and illuminating one that will span a day or two of pleasant and leisurely foraging rather than weeks of emotionally exhausting excavation.

Sifting through remnants of past creative endeavors, journals, books, art supplies, astrological readings, notes from friends, and photographs, my mind detours to past moments that take on new meaning with the understandings that temporal distance between them an d now imparts.

I found an angry expunging letter I wrote seven years ago to my ex-husband who I’d divorced nine years prior to that. As I reread it, I realized I have not a trace of anger or animosity left toward him.

 I found a Quotable Magnet I bought with my father in mind that says, “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.  –Chinese Proverb” It’s on top of the pile of things going into the trailer.

I uncovered a little watercolor painting one of my renters left me as a gift with a quote that says, “To awaken  quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.  –Freya Stark”

I came across a journal entry written during the week more than two years ago after I’d moved out of my home in which I wrote:

“I just have to keep reminding myself of these beautiful words: 

‘Do not let your spark go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.’  –Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

‘I travel light; as light, that is, as a man can travel who will still carry his body around because of its sentimental value.’  –Thomas Mendip as the Vagabond Soldier in Christopher Fry’s play The Lady’s Not For Burning  

“The more I know and experience, the more I realize I don’t know. I sense a vastness and connectedness beyond my comprehension. The notion of staying in one place, in the same way of thinking and being seems an impossible choice and an abomination. I must go further, to take the next step despite being unable to see where it leads. I cannot possibly allow myself to sit, stagnant and unmoving. I quit. I refuse to accept complacency and mediocrity. I will not trade my life for a credit score or false security. I refuse to trade this raging passion and energy  within me for comfort, mine and others’. Death can come at anytime, and I will not meet it idly, in the ‘hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.’ I will live my life as a burning spark.”

 My sentiment in this regard has changed little since then. I have fanned that flame, and more vigorously so in the wake of my brother’s premature passing. I did, however, sit idle according to the world’s idea of it. I took a year or more to move less often outside myself and to move inside, deeper and deeper, until I came to a wall that was built leagues beneath my worldly surface and constructed of fear, pain, anger, resentment, past ugliness, all the ways I had hardened to protect what is rightfully mine: my soft, giv ing, light-filled self. I destroyed that wall, and I’m laughing and creating and giving a lot more now. What the world calls “doing nothing” and chides us for, is unquestiona bly the most important thing we can do when our beings demand it.

In my boundless desire to rediscover the meaning of my life, I turned for a period to Vedic Astrology among other things. My astrologer, Alexander Tolken, believes strongly in the work of Joseph Campbell and overlays Campbell’s stages of the Hero’s Journey onto his clients’ astrological charts. I came across one of these, and on approximately November 2 of this year, I will apparently enter into what Campbell calls “The Treasure,” which is described like this:

“Finally you take  responsibility for yourself as a creative person! Whatever you found or reclaimed previously must now be guarded and developed or it will get buried again. You need discipline to craft your inspiration into a recognizable and substantial form. It is a risk. But if what you’ve found is not nourished it will remain forever unconscious—resulting in a dull feeling of incompleteness. This is about the heart and its metaphors—love, investing feelings, creativity, children—and all the risks that go with it.”  

 So, it seems, I’m going on a treasure hunt in my Shasta trailer! The “things” I often considered to be treasure in my life, these various items I’ve accumulated and spend today sifting through, are merely part of the map leading me to the real treasure. I mean, as kids who didn’t love to play pirate, or conquesting knight, or world explorer, creating maps and clues and ships and obstacle courses and dragons from imagination, sticks, dirt and treehouses? Why do we feel compelled to grow up and out of these treasure hunts? Doing so makes life so dull and hardly worth living! Perhaps I need a pirate hat, and maybe I’ll fashion a plank for the Shasta and make anyone walk it who dashes hopes and dreams and push them off into a vat of chocolate pudding where they must remain until they remember how to laugh and imagine their way out of their predicament.

One thing at a time. I have more sifting. But I do rather like the plank idea.

View more photos in the Treasure Hunting gallery