There’s Treasure Everywhere
The first place to look for treasure is within yourself. Don’t dismiss me as some kind of inspirational motivator if I start blathering about your internal riches. It’s a simple fact that unused, unexploited, almost unknown resources lie inside every one of us.
Sometimes it takes a crisis or catastrophe to reveal our hidden strengths. Classic examples include well-documented cases like that of a mother lifting a car off her child, pinned beneath it. But mental reserves are also at your disposal. If you doubt this, think how often your dreams feature people and events which you had entirely “forgotten.” Everything you ever experienced is still there, somewhere in your mind.
I am surprised how frequently snatches of melodies, which I haven’t thought about since childhood, suddenly pop unbidden into my current consciousness. This seems particularly true, of such trivia as radio advertising jingles. Strangely, we have lived to see a time in which these buried treasures, for decades inaccessible, except to diligent scholars, are now available in a new digital dimension. With a few finger-flicks, vast volumes of information, images, or “data” are there at anyone’s behest.
Meanwhile unintentional archaeologists are constantly stumbling upon treasures literally buried in the earth, covered over by the sands of time — or more likely built upon by oblivious successive generations. Now and then a truly enormous trove is discovered, like the spectacular Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo in England, unearthed on his land by a farmer, now in the British Museum, or the “Terra Cotta Army” of the first Chinese Emperor — thousands of individual sculptured figures, discovered as recently as 1974, also by farmers, in Shaanxi Province, so vast that it’s still being uncovered.
Of course, none of these rivals the revealed splendor of Egypt’s inheritance, particularly, the finding — now a century ago — of the tomb of the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun. This however was less of an accident than the result of a careful search by archaeologists, who knew what they were looking for.
Yes, I’ve been to these places, and seen these things — but the greatest tangible treasure is one much closer to home — in fact, it’s home itself. As the song says, “Be it ever so humble” . . . How great a treasure is it? Just ask any homeless person. (In the Union Army, that song was banned during the Civil War, because it motivated desertions.)
But in the treasure sweepstakes, home is closely rivaled by health — something you don’t really appreciate until you lose it.
And what about life itself? At times, it may or may not seem the treasure of treasures. But, whether it does or not, you’ll have a hard time finding somebody to take it off your hands.
Love and friendship must come in here somewhere. Like all the others above, however, there’s no way of putting a monetary value on them. Then let’s get back to things that can be financially valued. In the United States, by popular repute (this is one thing I haven’t seen for myself) what’s worth most is the gold in Fort Knox. But it’s officially a treasure, I suppose, only because it belongs to the U.S. Treasury — which, at least in theory, means We The People. No good asking for your share, however, even though at least as recently as 1933, you could convert your paper money into gold at any bank.
But in any case, we all know better than that. We have personal treasures which are worth more to us than gold. When people’s houses are threatened by fire, what do they save, after the family and the pets? Usually, it’s the mementos of their past, particularly photos, letters, and documents. For better or worse, such material can all now be “digitized” and stored in some computer “cloud,” making much of it less likely to be destroyed than to be simply forgotten about, especially when the owners have died, and their progeny or other heirs just don’t care about it, having their own lives to live.
But let’s not forget the almost legendary treasures of Sultans and other high potentates, in the form of harems full of beautiful women. Indeed, to this day it is still that kind of treasure promised in the afterlife to devout Moslems. As I once wrote after visiting Topkapi palace in Istanbul:
“You’ve really got to see Topkapi, the Sultan’s wonderland,
For it’s impossible to measure the pleasure and treasure he had at his command.”