“We shall not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Why did Forrest Fenn offer us the above quote? At first notion we readily accept that the quote was offered in reference to our search for his hidden treasure and the endless exploring to be endured in that specific pursuit. However, are we really to believe that Forrest Fenn held little regard for the true context of those words in the original author’s writing?
Perhaps, in order to answer the above question, we need to examine more closely what it might actually be that we are being challenged to explore? No doubt we are being challenged to explore all of the wonders of the Rocky Mountains, there is no questioning this fact. But now let me suggest that we are also being challenged to explore two other equally important things, one of those being life itself, and the last and most important challenge being the exploration of ourselves. These last two, after all, is what T. S. Eliot was exploring when he penned the above words in his writing, Little Gidding.
What was T. S. Eliot writing about? What was he referencing when he spoke about all of that exploration and what was to be discovered in the end? The end is the beginning, or so it was written, and not just by T. S. Eliot. In Forrest Fenn’s poem we are to begin where warm waters halt and we are to end our quest with the discovery of the blaze, brave and in the wood not coming until later. This is the full extent of our participation according to that poem, Fenn’s last directive being that we listen, and listen good.
Why are we to listen good? Is it because he is making extra effort to draw out attention to what is really being said? Is it because he is suggesting to us that there is something more to be understood within his poem then what is presented on the surface?
Below is a painting I did, a new pursuit I’ve recently taken up. I call this little painting, Willie & Me, and I think it sums up the true nature of Fenn’s poem pretty well because he’s done it tired and now he’s weak, and there is that contentment in this simple painting.
But there is more to this little painting then what one might see at first glance. The tree is a Juniper tree, a sacred tree at the heart of the Hopi culture. In the distance there is a river, there also exist the hint of a blaze, and there is also two soaring eagles. And there he comfortably stands, with Willie, a moment of absolute contentment.
“…at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
If you have not read Little Gidding then perhaps you should as you just might discover more content within that writing that seems to resonate with Fenn’s poem and the chase. I know I did. And so I’ll continue to explore and to discover until one day I can say, in complete contentment, that I’ve also done it tiered and now I’m weak.
With open mind, with great imagination, I’ll keep exploring and discovering. Next year I have Wyoming in my sights and I plan to take my camera, fly rod, and now also a canvas and easel. The thrill of the chase, maybe we’ve just got to embrace it for what it can be, the journey of a lifetime.
Have I got it all figured out? For me, anyway, I have. Now then, I gotta go because I have a date with a paint brush……
–Man Alone (Brad)