There's More to it Than Just Gold
Be a Thinker
I think the philosophical aspects of small-scale mining are, in many ways, just as important as learning about gold deposition physics or how to run a dry washer or sluice box. Maybe I'm deluded in that respect, but that's just how I roll.
After all, it's my belief that to be a proficient miner you must also be a thinker. Now this doesn't mean you need a high-faluting education or dozens of degrees or certificates hanging on your wall. You just need to think outside the box once in a while and be aware of what's going on inside those working next to you.
Most miners I've known over the decades were (and are) damn fine people. Sure, I've run across some individuals along the way who were shitheads, blowhards, and just plain royal pains in the butt. But thankfully, those types were in the minority.
I have to say that the miners I've respected the most over the years, however, were those hardy souls who could get the gold and, at the same time, engage you with their wit, humility, and philosophical viewpoints. They were the thinkers and the doers and when they spoke, it wasn't just some talking head flapping his or her gums because they liked hearing themselves talk. No, what these folks had to say had real value.
Taking it in Stride
Let me put this another way. I've learned some very valuable life lessons from some of these folks as well as the ins and outs of mining gold. Some of these individuals were characters in the truest sense of word who could keep you laughing with their self-deprecating humor or involve you in highly interesting discussions for hours over a campfire. All had one thing in common...they knew how to listen.
Others were carrying unbelievable hardships on their shoulders including infirmities, life-threatening diseases, and the deaths of a husband, wife, son, or daughter. When they spoke of these terrible things you could see the pain in their eyes but their spirits remained strong and not once did any of these folks ever give up the ghost or plop down on the pity pot. They took these things in stride despite the innate unfairness of the cards that were dealt them.
Truer Than True
I won't go into detail here, but for many years I sat on that same pity pot railing against God, the fates, and the world in general. My childhood years were not happy ones and my personal experiences in a long-forgotten war left me shattered and embittered in more ways than I can count. Even years after all these horrible things were long over I hung onto them like a drowning person with a life preserver and used them as an excuse to embark on a long, slow road of self doubt and yes...self destruction.
In many respects small-scale gold mining saved my life and so did those good people I met along the way. You may think this sounds overly dramatic but I'm telling you right here and now it's truer than true could ever be. The patience, understanding, and guidance some of these folks offered me helped immensely. So did their literal and metaphorical kicks to my skinny ass.
You see, they knew exactly what was eating at me and helped me redirect all that negativity into something positive. I am forever in their debt for that.
Anyway, what I'm getting at here is that you never know the impact you might have on those around you, whether you're mining or elsewhere. That little bit of patience and understanding you show to a "newbie" who's floundering may well be worth its weight in gold. Ditto to those around you, especially your loved ones.
Yes, "gold is where you find it." But it's not always a tangible thing that you can count, weigh, or measure.
Sometimes, it's better to listen than to speak. Remember that...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org