The Treasure Hunter

 

            I take a deep breath and slip quietly beneath the surface.  The roar of the surf fades away as I descend to the treasure below.  On the bottom, I find no gold, no silver, no diamonds, rubies, emeralds, nor sapphires.  In fact, I can see nothing which man could have made, lost, or thrown away.  The treasure I seek, and have found here, is simply the raw beauty of the tiny, few and far between places left in this world which are unscathed by human “improvements” and which are unseen by my eyes and the eyes of the masses.

            With perfect contentment, I take in the living panorama of the liquid world until I feel a need that must be fulfilled.  I ignore this need, for the experience is so great that the need seems trivial in comparison.  I gulp and continue viewing my kingdom.  Gradually… this treasure – my kingdom – grows dull.  The need becomes painfully strong, and I must concentrate with great effort just to focus my eyes upon any of the countless facets within my treasury.

            Suddenly – as if remembering a name held on the tip of the tongue, I realize the importance of this need!  I notice nothing within my kingdom except this need, and I hastily set off in search of the only thing on Earth that can quench my need.

            I ascend steadily but swiftly, and as I ascend, it seems the roaring surf above is moving away as fast as I am moving towards it.  My steady, efficient strokes become erratic and panicked.  My chest aches, my mind races, and my body reels out of control.  All that matters is getting as far away from my kingdom and all my treasure as I can possibly get.  I notice nothing now – no crashing surf, no bodily movements, and no light… nor dark.  It seems as if I were in a dream.

            I hear a thunderous roar and receive a shocking slap in the face by a cold wave, and, as the first, exaggerated gasp of air is received into my lungs, I realize that no amount of gold and silver nor no collection of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds is worth anything compared to the value of a few quarts of air when one has been airless for a little time as it takes most people to read these few lines.

            So… to those of you who spend so thriftily and save so diligently, and to those of you who garden so laboriously and play handyman so nobly, and to those of you who father so protectively and mother so unendingly, I say to you, “You know not the true value of your money and material possessions, nor of your beautiful, happy homes and your few square feet of rich, dark soil, nor of the sight and sound of a happy, giggling little girl whose only crime is being  the daughter of a treasure hunter.  How can you possibly place true value on these things unless you’ve gone without them till it hurts?  You’re simply accustomed to them – comfortable with them.  Hell, you’ve probably never even given thought to being without them.  You take them for granted, like the air you breathe, but if I could steal your breath until you’ve finished reading these lines, maybe you’d have some understanding of what it feels like to be a king amidst unending treasure, yet have no beautiful, happy home, no lawn and garden to call mine own, and no glowing, giggling face to come home to.  All I have is haunting pictures and burning memories – memories like those racing through the mind of a treasure hunter who has overstayed his time beneath the crashing surf and is racing for his life… and a few quarts of air!”

 

February 6th -11th, 1990

 

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