Gold Mining as a Game of Chance
Gold miners are many things...some good and some not so much. But one trait we all share in common is a willingness to take a chance on the long shots.
Booms and Busts
This gambling analogy is a good one. In most instances gold prospecting and mining is a game of chance where miners are still willing to roll the dice or play that next hand despite the odds stacked against them. We're all gamblers to one degree or another and that's a fact.
Gold Panning Kits
There's a great scene (among many) in the classic adventure movie "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" where Howard, the old time prospector and miner, compares finding gold to spinning a roulette wheel. "Just one more spin, one more spin." In the movie, Howard had been in every major gold rush of that era. He knew the score...the risks, the booms, and the busts.
It's All About the Search
I think this element of risk or uncertainty is one of the most powerful and compelling aspects of gold prospecting and mining. Finding and recovering gold is the ultimate goal but it's the search that really drives us deep down. The idea of what may be found, not what's in hand, is the real dream.
It's my contention that each and every time we do our thing we're pitting our knowledge and skills against the hard-case dealers in Mother Nature's outdoor casino hoping to hit the "big one." The anticipation of what may lie around the next river bend or farther up that desert dry wash is very close to that experienced when we pull that slot handle or play twenty one. One more spin or an ace onto that ten and we'll finally hit that rich pocket of yellow metal.
Bean Counters and Others
Think on this for a moment. Gold prospectors and miners have never been "play-it-safe" types. This is just as true today as it was in the days of the old timers, including those grizzled single-blanket, jackass prospectors who paved the way for the rest of us. I suspect that corporate bean counters and those who rigidly adhere to the mathematics of probability won't find much interest in gold mining. You see, long odds aren't the strong suit of those afraid to take risks.
That small-scale gold mining in all its forms is (or can be) addicting is a moot point. That said, does this mean we're all degenerate gamblers throwing caution to the winds and destroying lives in the process? Absolutely not. That extreme form of gambling is a sickness and a disease...a compulsion that some poor souls simply can't control and that will destroy them in the end. Us? We're in it for the long haul.
So here's a little tip. If you don't like games of chance or aren't willing to take a risk now and then I'd say you're probably better off hanging around the house getting those "honey do's" done. You see, you have to be a gambler at heart to be a gold miner.
Best of luck out there.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org