Sometimes luck finds us, and the best kind finds us when we are young. -Intellectual Shaman
After reading Treasure Island, I had a habit of rowing to small islands and digging big holes for treasure; just because I hadn’t found any yet, didn’t mean it wasn’t there. It’s not about the treasure, but about the hunt; finding a map in an old book and understanding the riddles that can take you on an adventure. Strangely, if you think this way, treasure comes to you in different ways. And this is the story of one of the treasures I found without looking for it.
I was 12 years old, and many believe this is when boys become men, but rather than competing with my peers, which always left a winner and several losers, I began to have faith in foolish things. I didn’t have much choice after the events of that summer and every summer after it.
I loved to climb trees because the woods looked different up there. People walked under them and didn’t see me. It was a different world, blue skies, green leaves, and time slowed down. Sometimes, I took a book and read, but this one particular day, I decided to climb the tallest tree in the forest.
The wind blew hard, the higher up I got, and at a certain point I realized that if I fell, I was going to break more than just my arm. I was so high, that the other trees looked small. In the last crook, between two branches, at the very top was a patch of moss. I don’t know if it was faith or something foolish, but I reached my hand up, expecting to find something there, and sure enough, I felt cold metal. It was a ring.
I stared at it in the sunlight and I knew it was special, even as the day began to fade. I put it in my pocket and then realized I had to climb down. I had a mild fear of heights and after being terrified of falling several times, I finally made it to the ground. The solid earth never felt better and I walked home by way of the river. I put the ring on my dresser and watched it at night, and I couldn’t believe it was there in the morning.
Later that afternoon, my best friend invited me to the county fair and before I left, I decided to take my ring. I looked like I was married, but nobody noticed. A carnie was taking kids’ money, left and right. “Give me a dollar and make ten,” he said. My friend gave him a dollar and he shuffled it with his cups. “Which cup has the money?” He asked.
“That one,” my friend said.
“I’m sorry, but you guessed wrong.” His voice had an annoying quality and the sides of his mouth, a spiritual sickness; they curled in an unpleasant way, even when he won, maybe especially when he won.
“I’d like to have a go,” I said.
“Okay, but nobody beats this shuffle.”
He twisted the cups and then shifted them and then double shifted them again. I knew where the money was, but when I reached out for the cup, I felt pain in my finger. It was my ring finger and maybe the ring knew better than I did. I withdrew my hand and as I reach for the cups again, I felt a warm tingling sensation.
“It’s the one in the middle,” I said.
“Impossible. Nobody beats that shuffle. 100 dollars says you can’t do it again.”
My friend’s mom got really excited as he twisted and shuffled the cups in the most convoluted way. He picked them up and put them down. He showed me where the money was and then made it disappear again. Then I reached for the cup where I thought the money was, and again, the pain was excruciating.
“Wait, what are you doing?” He asked.
I reached out and felt the same tingling sensation. “It’s the cup to the far left,” I pointed.
“How did you know that?” He asked.
“I guess I have faith in foolish things,” I said.