It was a small town, with small-town ways and mores. The everybody-known-ness of small places, and a gentility that emerges even today when you stroll its broad Colonial streets. There remain people there who’ve been there for four or more generations, and their ability to recall events and people from their distance past continues to astound someone like me who moves on and forgets; a shelterbelt of peripatetic lifestyle.

The wanderlust that runs deep in the family struck him early, but his youth kept him relatively close to home, and his exploration took him out and across the Waikato in search of adventure. A love of sport and a natural ability with all things physical took him away from the oppressive atmosphere his father created, whose ineffable envy of his sons drove him to greater success in business of the small-town, British kind. The shop. But not for our young man. His was the success of the horizon, the unknown and the riches of adventure.

As youths they would see the promise of treasure there on the horizon, and they, the children of the Colonials living near and among the squalor heaped on the people who had lived there for generations before them, would seize their contraptions and up and off in search. The Rainbow.

They’d take their bicycles, what we today would consider ancient, heavy, steel contraptions across rutted country roads and up into the ranges above Te Aroha. They’d head out across dry paddocks in the summer, and along the highways in the Winter, each exertion building them stronger, allowing them further from home and closer to the promise of freedom and glory.

I heard the story of that treasure, that belief in a myth, time and time again as a child and youth myself. It was just a story for many years, until the wrapping of that parcel began to fall away, passed from hand to hand within the family, each member removing or adding a layer of truth in turn, my young eyes beginning to see patterns in their own handling of the somethingness hidden within. And one day it was apparent.

He remained always that child. That seeker of the treasure hidden just beyond the horizon, Heaven’s bridge itself pointing to where he him find it if luck and perseverance proven on his side. He grew himself around that sharp speck of potential, and the beauty I always saw in him was the veneer life grew around it, layer upon layer, year upon year, tucked deeply within the shell life’s vicissitudes necessitated.

And it proved a revelation when I saw it for what it was. The inherent truthiness of it. That the treasure was luck itself, a counterpoint to a hope bestowed by the pot never found. It is an endowment only sometimes understood within my family. One that has lead to many successes, and many failures. Because although he himself fell short of his punt, it was the effort that shone most brightly through a life of disappointment, and it is that prism, the light of luck and dark of hope, that shone unequally into his children’s lives.

F,FLP

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