Two of my great uncles, Pat and Jack, were gold miners who lived in Jersey City.
Family lore has it those boyos spent much time in Alaska, panning east to the Klondike for enough gold to live for a spell way back in the lower 48. Prospecting, panning, treasure hunting, those Irish rockhounds turned geology into bits of bucks. They always returned to the asphalt foundation of the clan, but purposely made their lives an earned adventure. Did they find fool's gold? Bet they found plenty. They were never wealthy, but methinks in the process they saw clear mysterious lakes and heard the wind blow beautifully through fir trees taller than any tenement.
They were drift miners; together, yet solitary in their quest. They did not work as part of a large crew. Word has it some of the gold found was used to make the band of my grandmother Mary's simple engagement ring. They escaped the deception of daily life most summers to head north, when the weather was dry and creek waters low, exposing areas where shiny slivers might be waiting.
The alchemists of old claimed that to create gold, it was necessary to “give birth” to it. That a seed was needed, one purposely placed inside some womb so it could grow. I suppose for my great uncles this egg was one of transcendence, a state of living above and beyond the limits of material experience, employment likely misunderstood by the genteel populace of the time.
Is it better to live that way, rather than discover your hard-earned bowl's been buried in your enemies' grave? The likes of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron executives, will be in court soon. A public display owning up to the idea that perhaps the top U.S. domestic product these days is corporate lunacy. Has clear, creative thinking been buried? The lesson in all this might be that taking responsibility for one's own decisions from now on might prevent all hard-earned eggs from being deposited in the care of some fool's basket.
But troubles---fiscal, emotional, social--- are children of our own creation. We birth them, watch them grow, fall down, get up, change before our eyes. And we hang on to them most painfully. One day these troubles grow up and leave us. There is nothing we can do to bring these particular troubles back. They're off down the road and we mourn for them, because we now have to take new responsibility for different effort. We can't hide behind the old heartache any longer.
What intrigues me about those two Irishmen is they didn't spend their days toiling to make someone else rich. They accepted the odd option: action that enables an individual to simply earn enough so he still has time to sit by the side of a river and look up at the night sky. Nourishment earned from milking the moon's light instead of wondering where it all went.