Looking for what’s lost
Posted on March 7th, 2013
oy asked if we had any big plans for spring break because, if we didn’t, he and a few of his nine-year-old friends thought they’d go for a bit of a hike in the mountains around Santa Fe to look for buried treasure.
I began to ask questions. Not about the treasure so much (you can read about it here if you’re so inclined) but about the practicalities of the trip. We don’t have any camping gear, I reminded him. Totally fine, he reassured me; his friend has a four-man tent. What about an adult? Who did he think was going to supervise this excursion? Why, his fourth grade teacher of course! She was totally down to set fire to her spring break in order to help him and his friends hunt for gold—at least, Roy was pretty sure that she was.
The boys had agreed to evenly split their discovery he told me, and I applauded their foresight. It’s not communicating about these issues that leaves everyone out-of-sorts and going after each other with cutlasses, all Treasure Island-style. The only real problem concerning Roy was one friend’s shy nature. How would he respond when news cameras descended upon their team of treasure hunters to tell their story to the world? The others might have to cover his interviews for him, Roy suspected, but he seemed willing to wait to see how that particular situation played out.
My son can be inscrutable. He seems to be thinking about everything and nothing at precisely the same time. I cannot fathom how this is so and yet it is. It can also be disorienting to see him among his peers and remember that he is not 11, no matter what his height might otherwise suggest. He is still nine, only nine, a believer in magic and miracles and, as such, a worker of both in his own way.
Roy’s faith in the staggering scope of what is possible is a miracle in its own right. We are moving fast through his childhood, our feet barely touching the ground, and these moments of his belief in everything are the ones that I want most to clench my fists around tight and keep.
As adults, sometime we want to return to that place: Roy’s Neverland of treasure and magic and the thrilling, endless possibility of childhood. In bleak moments, we go searching for different outcomes to our lives, ones golden and heavy with the treasure we had expected would be there all along.
That’s alright for awhile, I think. Roy would be the first one to go digging with you there, in that better place you see for yourself. He may only be nine but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.∗