As a kid, you dream of finding treasure. The kind that’s buried, right at the “x.” Or waiting at the end of a rainbow. It’s where someone, or some leprechaun, left a secret stash of something so so good.
You think of it as a discovery that will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, like The Goonies. You’ll find gold coins and gold bars and gold anything. Just gobs of gold, for days. And, when you’re a kid, you can dream like that. I did.
But, what if you grow up and realize the treasure is a T-shirt? A crumpled up, dirty T-shirt forgotten on the shore of an Idaho lake? No pirates. No leprechauns. But all kinds of signs that the universe is involved.
We know now that a T-shirt can be and is a treasure. It wasn’t a treasure because we were accidentally short a shirt and needed one to wear. It wasn’t out of function, but out of feeling. It was a treasure because of who it belonged to, the meaning it had, the fact that we were curious enough to find out, and how that journey confirmed that what we’re doing, what we want to do and that the spirit of adventure we carry with us every day is important and shared.
The quirky shirt caught our eyes immediately. We found it while camping on a seemingly personalized peninsula, a spot we serendipitously secured to view the solar eclipse last summer. A few guys and girls camped nearby, using kayaks to explore the lake, and a couple families camped off in the distance, dropping in the water in inner tubes and jet skis. It was a magical spot that included fly-bys from bald eagles and other-worldly stargazing at night.
And it’s where we found that shirt, emblazoned with a creature called a Bearfish. That creature is part growling grizzly and part tailfin. And I remember saying out loud how I wished we could keep it because it was so cool and different. So, we brought it home. And we didn’t see it again for months.
Until Ron’s daughter handed me a large, wrapped gift that when opened revealed the shirt – cleaned and mounted in a frame he built. And I cried. And we found a prominent spot to hang it in the family room, where we see it every day.
And seeing it every day got us thinking about what the Bearfish symbolized. What the heck did it mean? Who made it? When we googled our way through our curiosity, we came across a site that had a similar image as its logo. So we emailed them and let them know we may have found something that belonged to them. We sent a photo to confirm.
“Bearfish spotting in Idaho!”
That’s the email we received back, copied to the group of friends associated with that site. And then we got this:
“It was a long journey to get there, but it was the Bearfish that brought me to Idaho…Essentially it is a way of life, we are tracking down Bearfish by land and by sea, wherever it may be. Whitewater rivers of Colombia, in the Sierra Nevadas on the Pacific Crest trail, in the deserts of Morocco or the epic waves of NorCal. It has pushed us to pursue the people we want to be…”
And our jaws simultaneously dropped. Minds simultaneously blown.
We knew we could have found anything on that shore, or nothing. We could have found someone’s old flip-flop or discarded swimsuit bottoms. But this shirt had meaning. So much meaning. To the person who wore it and to us, the people who found it.
The very meaning of Kairos dovetails with the sentiment behind the Bearfish. See?
The person who forgot it said the Bearfish inspired him to quit a job, reliable cubicle work that did nothing for his soul. It pushed him to pursue something different, so he relocated to Colombia on somewhat of a lark, and on his way thought he’d stop over in Idaho to see the eclipse. A kayaker and musician, he fell in love with the same spot where we camped. And the universe thought it might be cool if he forgot his shirt so we could find it.
At least, that’s what I think.
“I am glad that my lost shirt ended up in your hands, and as you help demonstrate, the Bearfish does not need much explanation to understand the ideals of it. This is the strange thing about it, while it started from a drawing, there seems to be something that many people connect with as if instinctual.”
It was our found treasure on that trip. We knew when we discovered it that it needed to stay with us. We knew we needed to know more about it. How could we not want to know more about this mystical creature?
And so the Bearfish is us. And we are the Bearfish. We live on Bearfish time now. We always were, but we didn’t have the mascot or the name for it.
We were supposed to find it, because we already carry a torch for everything it stands for. We were supposed to discover that peninsula, just as much as the kayaker who lost it was supposed to find that peninsula, which was recommended to him by a friendly fly-fisherman at a busy boat launch. We were supposed to be in Idaho, to push on after hitting a deer and cracking the radiator. He was supposed to be on his way to Colombia. We were all supposed to be in the most unforgettable place ever.
Adventure took us there, to find that treasure, which only confirmed that our sense of adventure is right. And adventure led us to the story behind that treasure. And that’s the real treasure of the whole thing.
It’s pure gold, actually.