When I first read this assignment (write about inanimate meanings, ie pull from your treasure chest) I went into a tailspin. I took this on such a personal level I searched my history to find something to pin this story on. I found nothing. Asking my husband, my friends and family-we all came up drawing blanks. I had nothing, no treasures from my past, nothing that I had truly held onto. It’s depressing to feel treasureless.
How could I write this without having experienced this first? How could I convince the reader to share in the creation of an experience that leads them to hold fondly onto the picture I paint with these words; if I had not experienced the depth of these emotions first? I concluded I was lacking emotional depth and screwed as a writer.
I’m not a mentally normal person. It’s no excuse for hiding, dodging and not doing the work. Yesterday, I came back to myself, back to this mind frame that can do the work. This morning I woke up inspired. All I had to do was change the parameters of what makes a treasure.
Physical objects as treasure I do not have. I never cherished things that I knew could disappear at my parent’s whim. I learned early on to not hold onto the comfort of a blanket and to transfer it to whatever object was available. I had learned detachment was more valuable than attachment. Facing that one fact hurts.
But I tell stories. Some of these I’ve recounted over the years to the point I have a favorite one.
I spent a great deal of time in the yard as a child. I watched life change in her slow ways over those years. Have you ever noticed the thickening of the tree trunks in the spring? Ever notice where the wild thistle comes from? Have you watched the slow war of the ants? The environment was my main source of mental stimulation.
At six I enjoyed running across the yard to pick buttercups, dandelions, oxalis, clover, wild mint, sweet peas, and violets. For most of them, my pickings encouraged them to grow and spread out even more. Except for the buttercups. By the time I was seven, there was only a single patch in the yard. It was a health bushy patch surviving the onslaught of the lawnmower bravely.
Then, came me and my greedy hands. In a single spring, I decimated their future. I proudly gave my mother the biggest and best buttercups I had ever seen. The flowers were bigger than my thumbprint, they were giant buttercups. Their yellow pollen would cover our chins as we asked silly questions about our love, or not, of butter. It was such a happy spring and summer, the year of the giant buttercups.
The following spring I eagerly searched for the buttercups. Not a single buttercup plant existed in the yard. None existed in the neighborhood. There were no buttercups to be seen. I had picked them all, to death!
In my innocence, my desire to shower my mother with affection led to the destruction of our favorite flower. It’s a lesson that I’ve carried with me and never forgotten.
Turns out buttercups are annual plants and they need their flowers to form seeds. It took ten years for wild buttercups to spread and reseed the yard. Such little actions often have deep and long-lasting consequences. This is my earliest treasure-awareness.