• Beads in the sand

    by Sunny Schlenger

    I was four years old the first time I remember finding treasure.

    The place was Happy Acres Nursery School and Kindergarten, and I was on the playground. I had just eased down from the chain swing onto the sandy grass and was bending over to brush the particles off my anklet socks, when I spied a small flash of color. I quickly knelt down and scooped a tiny, bright red bead from its hiding place. What a magnificent discovery!

    I smoothed out the sand around my feet, and, wondrously, exposed more bits of brilliance. Slowly I picked out the beads, carefully putting them into the pocket of my dress, while looking around to make sure that no one was watching me. I couldn’t believe my luck! Someone had clearly lost a treasure trove, and I was the one to find it.

    There were dozens of dazzling colors – shiny yellows, blues, shimmering shades of orange and purple and emerald green. It seemed like I was crouched there for hours, delicately excavating and examining each piece.

    It was only years later, in retrospect, that I realized that my treasure trove was most likely the remains of a broken bead necklace. The owner probably didn’t realize that the elastic had snapped and spilled its contents onto the sand, to be pounded into the ground by stampeding pre-schoolers.

    That moment of rapturous discovery was planted in my imagination forevermore as the essence of treasure.

    What qualifies as “treasure”?

    Webster’s defines treasure as (1) accumulated wealth, as money or jewels; (2) any person or thing greatly valued. To me, treasure is all about the shivers you get when you handle something so precious that time stops.

    Question, though: Is there an expiration date on treasures whose value is not monetary?

    Take my beads discovery at age 4. The memory of that moment is still so real it’s as if it happened yesterday. But when I look at the tired bag of tiny, faded pieces of plastic – the bag that’s moved with me since childhood – I no longer see treasure. In this case, I’m able to retain the memory without needing to retain the evidence that it happened. And thank goodness for that because if I needed proof of every wonderful experience I’d ever had, I would never have room to take a step!

    When you find it necessary to downsize, it can be difficult to discriminate between life-long treasure and simple memories of a special time.

    Qualities of Treasure

    Try the senses test:

    1. Does the item look like treasure?
    2. Does it feel like treasure?
    3. Smell like treasure?
    4. Sound like it?

    If you don’t have a resounding “yes” answer to any question, then let it go. Memories will serve you better than reserving space for things that are not appealing to you.

    Hold onto “treasure” as long as it makes you smile with the memory of how good life can be.

    • Downsizing is difficult but, you said it best. Treasures are in the eyes of the beholders and the mysteries of memories. I used to collect a lot and have started to downsize in my mind first and then actual items of what I need or want. Funny, I purged many years ago most of my childhood “things” keeping but a few. Then in recent years I have found taking photos helps the memories last longer and now with the digital age I can see them over and over again in my mind as well as on the internet. Thanks Sunny for your article today.

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