There's More to it Than Just Gold

Periodically in my own small way I try to throw a bit of gold mining philosophy into the mix here. "Bedrock Dreams," along with many other prospecting and mining sites online, has plenty of nitty gritty mining info to sink your teeth into but few (if any) of those other sites ever move beyond that narrow realm.

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.

Real Value

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


  1. Jim, Well said! I want to thank you for serveing in the millitary and apologize to the folks that mean mouthed you when you came home. I was born without a hip socket and have a plastic one. That kept me out of the millitary, so I can only imagine what you went through. I think your words serve for all things in life though, we all get down at times. A good friend of twenty plus years just killed himself a few weeks ago. He had cancer, but was winning, he was depressed and drinking too much. It was affecting his marrage, his wife had moved out.....I guess I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. I will miss him. Gary

  2. Thanks for the good words Gary. We all have to play the cards dealt us in this life...some of us get 4 aces and some get seemingly unplayable the end, you just have to suck it up and motor on...hopefully with honor and integrity. Best, J.R.

  3. All I can say....J.R. is thank you for the little sunshine you bring to my day. Tough to "shake things up".......but as always, you "Silver Tongued Devil" you reach for the upper fruit. I love it...and for those who don't write.....keep it up! We all need more clarity...and somehow I get mine here!

  4. Thank you my friend for the fine words and for being there. It's people like you that make it all worthwhile. Best, J.R.

  5. Glad I opened this bit of JR's Bedrock Dreams email. Have not been able to open any of JR's Bedrock Dreams for like the last 3 months? Always got some dumb computer error so I reluctantly put Bedrock Dreams into my Spam Folder.
    Thanks for the inspiration today.I was never a military man but depression and anxiety issues have been a long time problem for me. Running away from the isssues just doesn't seem to work. Glad I did not take up drinking. Gold hunting can rally take your mind off personal troubles for sure. I'd rather be at Creekside Baptist church any Sunday vs being in a stuffy building on Sundays to boot.
    Not knocking religion too much, just my stiff religious upbringing I guess. And it keeps my relatives wondering where this Creekside Baptist church is and off my case about what I did every Sunday.

    -Tom V.

  6. Very well put Tom. Nope, running away from your problems or trying to drown them out with alcohol or drugs doesn't work in the end...just gets you deeper into that hole. I know.

    Despite a decent sense of faith, I think I'd rather be at Creekside Baptist myself!

    Best, J.R.

  7. JR,
    I met a '91 gulf war veteran on a club claim a few years ago. He had suffered several serious injuries in an IED event. Between his physical and emotional wounds, he found the solitude of mining a personal refuge. Over time, he was able to sit in 'the bush' without fearing that at any moment he would die.
    There are many reasons to seek the gold, but as you said, not all of these reasons are as clear to see as one might think at first glance.

    GT Blocker

  8. Right you are GT. Thanks for your input here...I appreciate it. J.R.


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