Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Buried Treasures and Treasure Maps.

Adventure stories, in particular those set in some historical era, were the magnet that drew you to reading. You couldn't get enough of them, thrilled by the notion that you weren't only finding entertainment but were gaining a growing familiarity with the politics of here and there as well as the politics of then.

Much as such stories of past intrigues and political skirmishes honed your appetites and fueled your imagination, stories of buried treasure and documents purporting to be authentic maps indicating places where buried treasure lay touched your dramatic appetites like no other. 

The occasional discovery in Real Time of a sunken galleon, an emperor's tomb, or some decidedly significant cache of valuable added the possibility that you one day could stumble on a buried treasure, and added a greater sense of plausibility to the fictional accounts you pursued.

The parallel dramatic lines of adventure and hidden treasure met in the closing chapters of one of the quintessential boys books for boys of your youth, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which came fast on the heels of your having read Robert Louis Stevenson's majestic Treasure Island.  

Such books at last gave you opportunities to fill the pocket-sized notebooks you collected, made yourself, and carried about with you. And fill them you did, with maps copied from National Geographic, National Scholastic, and one of your favorite nonfiction books, a Rand-McNally Atlas given you by your sister when you were ten.

You enjoyed inventing your own islands, often in the Pacific Ocean but as new targets of opportunity came to you through your reading, you understood the greater likelihood of a real treasure being on a real island. Indeed, by that time, you'd really stepped up your production by burying real treasures of your own in the Los Angeles of those days, when there were numerous empty lots and there was a large, undeveloped field just beyond your grammar school. Your immediate treasures were buried near the bungalow where you were a student.

At that time, your maternal grandmother fancied a tea that came in a tin container shaped like a treasure chest. You could get a Big Little Book and a small box of candy in the tin, which you buried with the notion of being sent out of the room for some infraction, whereupon you could dig up one of the treasures, read and munch.  

A disaster with a chocolate bar led you instead to such candies as jelly beans, jaw breakers, and another favored hard candy, Jujubes.  This form of buried treasure went on for some months until you were caught in the act of reading Terry and the Pirates, and working on a lollipop by the teacher in a neighboring bungalow.

Over the years, your fondness for buried treasure has kept pace with you, informing your appreciation for archaeological digs, where the treasure may be of some precious metal or some rock/mineral such as obsidian, which has among its talents the ability to produce a superb cutting edge. There are, indeed, other treasures and riches than coins and jewels.

Among such treasures, indicated by quasi-maps are the notes and, on occasion, a paragraph or two of outline or a list and description of pairs of characters who are separated by a set of wildly disparate traits and personal preferences. At the very least, coming across such notes or maps is a reminder of the childlike joy and resonance you experienced with your early readings, treasure indeed to your wrinkled countenance.

These treasures remind you that a significant segment of your imagination has remained at the level where maps in the form of notes await your digging, whereupon they will help you spell out insights, adventures, and understandings of the relationships between things often seen as disparate during waking, daylight, adult hours. In the twilight hazes of imagination and sleep, armies of characters ply ancient rituals of exploration and discovery.

With a particular tilt of your head at the right angle, your entire being becomes an antenna by which you receive signals of characters much like you, quirky, driven, impatient to find the short cut to the next adventure.

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