Treasure: what is it? I’ve worked at museums long enough to know what an artifact is. Usually, it’s an object that you find or dig up. It can tell you about the environment, what kinds of things lived there, what they did and when. Paleontologists like to say that archaeologists study garbage, stuff people throw away, while they study bones and fossils.
Some artifacts get handed down from one generation to another instead of being thrown away. There is a sense of value in the thing itself. It’s special to someone in some way. It carries attachment, and those attachments are preserved along with the object.
So, maybe ‘treasure’ is really about our attachment, the things we want to hold on to. Many times those things are ephemeral: feelings, living beings, pleasant moments in time. We know they will not endure, so often we transfer their significance to objects that may last a bit longer.
And, of course, this is just what we’re doing when we take photographs, isn’t it? But what is it that we actually treasure? Life and love. How do you preserve that kind of treasure? You can’t, really. What you can do is be absolutely present while it is within your grasp. Celebrate it, bring yourself to it, flow with it. Enjoy it, with all your heart.
Treasure: pirate’s booty, artifacts from an ancient tomb, shiny objects stashed in your nest, things you collect and wrap carefully.
I do not think of myself as a materialistic person because I don’t like shopping and buying, but I do have a collection of stuff that I have found or been given. These semi-precious items are housed in special places like shelves, curio cabinets, and glass-fronted cupboards in my home. It’s rather like a museum, which is perfectly appropriate to my interests and personality. (I work at 2 museums.) When I think of my collecting behavior, it probably started with rocks and “glassies” (beach glass) as a kid. As an adult, I collected eggs…a symbol of the Trinity, of life, and nature to me. Now, most of my egg collection is in storage, and I have begun accumulating elephants (mostly from Steve’s Aunt Rosie, who, having a habit as a flea market addict and having identified my taste, seems to present me with additions every time I see her!). Elephants are a symbol of matriarchal wisdom and compassion to me. My first beloved stuffed animal was Babar. I treasure the idea of elephants in the wild and feel great pain at their destruction. I would like to see some in their natural habitat some day.
But there is something that I collect and value even more, I think. I keep them close to me in places where I see them every day: on my computer screen, on my phone screen, on my living room shelves and in great boxes under my bed. They are photographs of my family. I’m guessing this is something that most people on the planet treasure…maybe hidden in a chest, tucked into a scrap of cloth, hanging on a chipping plaster wall or stashed in a suitcase in less technologically developed cultures. In fact, in our “museum inventory”, we have quite a few photographs of complete strangers, gleaned from estates sales – black and white faces in various poses, symbols of human connection. One day I’d like to give them new life in some art form so they might be treasured once again.