As most of my readers know by now, I love to metal detect. It’s a hobby that combines the past and the present, the beauty of the outdoors and the romance of history. It’s really about treasure hunting, about the thrill of the possibility of finding something valuable or intriguing or simply old that was lost or buried by another person. I once found a coin from the 1780s; imagine finding something that was made 200 years ago!
About six months ago, I registered with a website that connects people who have lost something metallic with people who might be able to find these items with their metal detectors. I was notified of a lost wedding ring in Cabin John, Maryland, and I got in touch with the owners and arranged to go to their home to hunt for it. I arrived on their doorstep bright and early Saturday morning.
The husband had lost his wedding ring, a family heirloom, while cutting down brush in their back yard. The area in which he had lost it wasn’t really that big, but much of it was covered in trees and brush and bordered by a chain link fence. This is a problem because the metal fence sets off the detector from about four inches out and obscures any signal from the ring.
As I chatted with the wife, she told me that Cabin John, a quaint, upscale area bordering the Potomac River, got its name from Captain John Smith (‘Cap’n John’ became ‘Cabin John’), who had once sailed up that river, and that when the land was divided into lots and marketed in the early twentieth century, a selling point was that there might be buried treasure in your own back yard! So far, this family had found a fox jaw and an old shovel while digging around, but no buried treasure.
You don’t know how badly I wanted to find that ring. I started a new job three weeks ago and had to close out solo on Friday. Under pressure to carry out certain procedures correctly, I completely forgot about other ones and ended up inconveniencing the Saturday shift no end. I got a hot text on my way down to the metal detecting gig that shattered my newfound confidence in my job performance. Putting an artistic soul into a real job is like hammering a square peg into a round hole anyway, but the artist must pay her bills just like everyone else.
This was eating away at me as I searched the ground for the ring with no success. I felt like a complete failure and told the husband as much as we talked.
“No,” he said. “You’re only a failure if you don’t try.”
This simple and obvious truth seemed to carry more weight because it came from a stranger who didn’t know me at all, and his kind words actually made me feel better. I redoubled my efforts but still came up short. No ring. I left the couple with some suggestions and an offer to come back again if no one else could find the ring. They thanked me profusely and presented me with a bottle of “Electric Reindeer” Moscato (how did they know I liked wine?) It made me feel a little better.
On my way home, I called my BFF and told her my woes. She reinforced the idea that everyone makes mistakes and advised me to text a ‘mea culpa’ to the office manager, learn something from the experience, and then move on. I did. Lesson learned.
As I sit down tonight with a glass of Electric Reindeer (actually, I’m going to a Christmas party tonight and doing shots of Silver Patron, but I thought this ending sounded better), I will reflect on a day that actually turned out to be pretty good. Knowing that I would beat myself up for messing up at the office, God sent me just what I needed: a lovely couple who let me know how much they appreciated the effort I made to help them and a BFF who knew just what to say.
Life is still good. You just have to keep on trying.