Hello! I hope it is alright that I call you by your first name. I just wanted to convey how important your words and stories have been to me these last few weeks and offer thanks. I would venture to guess most emails you receive are in regards to the treasure; questions about the poem, its clues, people wanting more information, etc; that is not this email.
I purchased your book, “The Thrill of the Chase”, June 15th after hearing about it from my parents, who they themselves were leaving to search for the treasure in New Mexico that week. Something about a real life treasure hunt made a tiny spark in my mind and soul. Perhaps it was the kindling of memories of making treasure maps with my cousins and running through the “jungle” (fruit orchards), swinging on “vines” (ropes we hung) to cross “rivers” (irrigation for the trees) to evade imaginary adversaries also in search of our treasure. Perhaps it was the notation that I like to think I am clever and like to solve a puzzle just to know I can. Or the fame in being the first to do so. Or the thoughts of what I could do with the money; pay off school loans, travel, I could go horse back riding through the Scottish highlands, see the pyramids of Egypt, safari in Africa, see all the beautiful art and architecture in Italy, go repelling into caves, so many places to see and things to do!! Whatever the reason, I purchased the book.
I have to say your book saved my life.
I had at the time, well I still am, going through a divorce from my high school sweetheart. It had only been the first few weeks when I purchased the book and I have to say the hardest few weeks thus far. I have not handled it well. We were married 10 years. Which I think is an accomplishment for people my age nowadays, especially with the challenges we had to face with multiple deployments. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed. I had an array of feelings at any one time but the majority was anger and sadness. All the unmet expectations that I had, that we had, for the marriage gone, the life I had dreamed, gone. So here I am at 30 starting over. How? I’ve really don’t know how to date having gotten married at 19. All the doubts came flooding in, that I am not good enough, not worthy of love or happiness, that I will be alone forever, etc everything seemed pointless and I quickly went to a dark place.
But it was your book that offered relief from that dark place. I could read the book and imagine making a goal or plan to go look for the treasure. Make a plan to go on a trip with my family, at the very least we have a great time camping and seeing a part of the U.S. we’ve never been before. Talking with my parents about our theories has been probably the most time we have spent talking with each other in a long time. So as a mere distraction your book saved me but there is more to it than just distraction.
I will probably not be able to verbalize just how much this part of the book meant to me at the time because some weeks have passed, but the last two pages of your chapter ‘My War for Me’ resonated with me. It is true that in a hundred years no one will know I even existed, but that doesn’t matter now does it? Because it “really doesn’t matter who we are if we are someone to ourselves”. The beauty that exists in me is there whether anyone sees it or not; the beauty and value in every living thing exists whether we recognize that value or not. I think I realized I didn’t want to waste my turn either. When I read this in the middle of the night I cried and held my hand to the page as if this action somehow connected me to you, to the universe, to every person who has felt the same. It was funny that later on you mentioned about touching art, and how not being allowed to touch the art, to be separated from it in some way was impersonal. I agree. I think that’s way I want to travel so much, to be present in a place with history, to stand where others have stood and to look around and see what they saw, smell what they smelled, hear what they heard, (though these things can change) but I would love to go to Deadwood and just be in a place where Wild Bill lived, hike the John Muir trail and imagine what it must have been like for him seeing Yosemite essentially untouched by man, to stand in the Sistine Chapel and look up and imagine how Michelangelo felt when he did the same. That can’t be experienced by reading a book or looking at a picture.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. You probably never thought your book would save a suicidal divorcee, but it did.
Have a good night,