I was once a treasure hunter… no, not like that man I met on a beach once who dove for gold coins (and found a few, or so he said) but one who loved to seek out the obscure, to feel that rush of discovery, of finding something no one else had, of loving something, even someone, that others had not met.
My treasures were not precious, at least not in the traditional sense. They were not made of gold or jewels, but they were even more valuable than these to me. I would find them tucked away in a dusty used clothing store (before these became chic) or in the basement of a bookstore, in a market in a small town across the sea. Because I spoke a few tongues other than my mother English, I had access to words and sounds that were exotic and unknown to the others around me. Because my palate was daring and brave I tasted things I’d never before imagined existed. How easy, or relatively so, it was to be a treasure hunter!
But now, it seems, the treasure is far more easily hunted, strewn about each morning in the shallow waters so that when we arise all we have to do is lift up our hems and wade in. The rocks have been cleared and the seaweed raked clean so that it does not obscure our view, the clouds put on hold so the sun shines bright.
Google pretty much anything and not only will you find your answer but you will find that thousands of others wondered the very same thing, and thousands of others posted their opinions on it, definitive and with airs of unquestionable veracity. Develop a desire for something lost in the memories of your childhood, and a few clicks will find it, shipping and handling included, on etsy or ebay. Search a book, any book, by subject by author by title by any combination of the above, and you will find it in an instant. Get it now. Have it now. Quick, so that you can seek something else.
My voyages are shorter, less frequent now, but I know that one must travel farther and farther to find the frisson of danger and pleasure I knew when to travel was to dive into a new and vastly different world. When living abroad meant separating oneself from all that was familiar, to become immersed and deliciously lost, in another. I miss laying my hands on something and knowing that it is one of a kind, precious—if only in my eyes—in its uniqueness. I miss Times Square when it was scary and dark and the piers when they were filled with shadowy characters and not joggers and well coiffed landscaping.
Today I read that the honeybear honey sold since before I was born contains honey from not only the Dakotas and California, but also from Argentina, Vietnam, India. Not only that but that there is a dark side to the honey business, involving smuggling and forgery, and even honey identity-theft, smuggling and forgery. Imagine that! Even the honey bear has been carried along on this sea, bobbing about, looking for his hollowed tree.
There are days when I appreciate the access, instant and seamless, I have to information, to people and places. There are others when I yearn for peace from the noise, for an island far off in the distance, or a village surrounded by jasmine without chain stores and highways and facebook likes and dislikes and oh so many comments, so many opinions which compete and collide.
I used to stretch my arms wide and run across the borders to grasp the exotic, yet now I turn inward and yearn for the local. I want to know where my food comes from and who my friends are, really are, not just pictures of them which record their happiness not their sorrows. Maybe it’s what I’m supposed to do, now, somewhat faded the fearlessness of youth, but I think it’s not just a matter of age, but rather a reaction to the sameness, to the drab greyness which results when colors are muted and sounds negated. I seek still that four-leafed clover in the sea of three-leafed ones, convinced that it is still there, somewhere.