I couldn’t help but notice the naysayers who read and comment on the many articles describing Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt. They are the doubters, skeptics and cynics who believe that Forrest Fenn is pulling our collective leg; that he has decided, as one of his last formal, public acts, to play us for fools rather than do what he says he has done—that is, to offer up a million dollar treasure to those willing to decipher his clues and go out looking.
I am somewhat torn by this bit of information. On the one hand, it means that fewer people will be searching for his treasure. And, on the other, it could also mean that we as a people have “developed” to where the kind of challenges offered by Mr. Fenn are seen as meaningless amusement and that wilderness no longer draws us from our comforts as it once did. It means that the heroic/tragic tales of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea, of Joe Meek and Tom Fitzpatrick, of Kit Carson and Josefa Jaramillo and of Jim Bridger now molder unread in forgotten libraries and that we have lost something special.
There is no need either to question or to defend the honesty of Forrest Fenn. We need only to look at his motives and see what they say and, fortunately, The Thrill of the Chase has more clues about this part of Forrest Fenn than it has about how to find the treasure. In short, despite a far above average biography, Forrest Fenn fears to leave this world as unknown and unremembered and the rediscovery of the life of Forrest Fenn in a hundred or a thousand years would be his ideal scenario.
We know this because he left a number of 20,000-word autobiographies in the bronze jars and bells he fabricated and hid around New Mexico and he fantasizes about his desire to have been buried along side his treasure chest. He is saddened that the name of his beloved father appears but once in a Google search along with the number of his burial plot in a small Texas town. He writes poignantly of a late night solo flight down the East Coast as he ruminates on our place in the Universe. He brings tears with an account of his accidental encounter with the grave of a French soldier in Vietnam who, without Maj. Fenn’s intervention, would have gone through eternity with no one to know or remember who he was, or how he died.
I have the same fears as Forrest Fenn; we all do. No matter what we profess to believe, what we know for sure, is that we will die and what will be left is our legacy and nothing more. And, for most of us, even that will soon fade away. Few of the billions of individual stories that have been played out here on Earth attain the levels of those reached by Moses, George Washington, Madam Curie or Steve Jobs. But we are all somebody. Our determination to hang on to that living uniqueness— even in death, is as strong as our desires for a great many other things—like, for example, a king’s ransom in gold and jewelry. For me, it would be difficult not to believe that Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest is hidden out there somewhere.
Maybe though, the naysayers need a more practical answer as to why they should trust Forrest Fenn on this one. Let me provide that answer. Much of Mr. Fenn’s fortune obviously is in gold and jewelry rather than in Wall Street investments. What difference does it make then, if a part of his gold and jewelry is under his bed or hidden somewhere where he has every confidence that it will not soon be discovered?