“So, did I tell you about my bottle project?” I’d only known her a week and we’d barely spoken. She gripped the steering wheel and stared straight forward, paying attention to the traffic, but I knew that look. What she had really meant to say was, “Ask me to tell you! PLEASE!”
I laughed and answered, “Bottle project? No, you haven’t.” And with that I knew she was gone. You know how I knew? I could relate to the feeling…the unrelenting need to share your passion with anyone with ears because you know there’s only so much room in your body and soul for never-before-shared stories, and if you don’t tell them something bad will happen for sure.
I’d found a kindred spirit of sorts.
So, here’s the story. Her story, and what it means to me.
A couple of weeks ago, shards of glass started poking through the grass near her hammock in her back yard - a lawn that her husband was very proud of and had spent considerable time, money and energy on. Well, THAT’S not safe, she thought, and decided to dig it up and get rid of it. Two weeks later we’re sitting in her truck on the way home from work and she’s describing the pit she has created while excavating – the hole that calls to her, but torments her husband as he watches it grow in width and depth every day.
She can’t wait to get home to dig up more treasures. She has found 18 medicine bottles, including Dr. McClane’s Worm Specific, a full-size cast iron stove, brass rings of lanterns, and 8 huge buckets of broken glass from the 1800′s. No piece of glass slips through her fingers unnoticed. She’s addicted to the search of the small. I told her that she should be an archaeologist! I guess she already is. She’s older than I am by a few years and has done a lot in her life. I wondered if this was her first go-’round with passion?
She told me that it’s all she thinks about. I nodded and tried to wedge in an “I can relate!” to the monologue. But she was in the zone. She couldn’t hear me. She didn’t want to hear me. She made me laugh so hard with her enthusiasm.
Her husband and children think she’s a bit nuts, she told me. When she’s not digging, she’s scouring the Internet to identify her finds.
I get it.
Was it just last week that my friend and I’d made a similar discovery at the Family History Center? I’ve read files, newspaper clippings, and hand-written journal entries, and am full to over-flowing with excitement. Sometimes someone will catch me teary-eyed or giggling, and for a minute I’ll have someone who’ll listen to me as I recount the latest uncovered tale.
But, for the most part, just like my new friend, I enjoy an alternate universe alone, digging deeper and deeper, uncovering voices that share their dreams, joys, sorrows, and memories like a sunrise that peeks over the horizon – appreciated by those who come to behold in silence and awe, a light that exposes a hidden and sleeping world.
Some things you just have to see and experience for yourself.
And you know by a look in the eyes, and the sound of a voice when somebody else has hit pay dirt whose reward is passion – an inexplicable need to stick with a task that is felt like a gift by those who possess it and seen as a curse whose “back yard” is being “destroyed.”
Buried in a manila envelope, tucked between thirty photos from the late 1800′s, I found this newspaper clipping. Maybe you can relate? Maybe you have a passion that makes you feel like this?