A Short Rant on the "Romance" of Gold Mining
(Admiral David Farragut, USN.)
Well, you know how it goes with yours truly if you've been reading Bedrock Dreams long enough. I get something stuck in my craw and I'm like Union Admiral Farragut at the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay..."Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!"
Can't Say it Any Plainer
I'll tell you right now that I don't watch much television, reality or otherwise. In my view, most of what's on the boob tube is unadulterated crap and there are more turds floating around in that particular punchbowl than I care to mention. Granted, there are a few decent shows on the flickering screen and my tastes tend to be pretty eclectic in that regard. I like survival type stuff, well-done historical programs, and as much as I hate to admit it, I watch the two reality TV gold shows on the Discovery Channel. If that surprises you, please don't be alarmed. I'm like the worst junkie when it comes to all things gold mining, no matter how bad or good those things may be. It's that "moth to the flame" thing in me.
Well lo and behold while viewing one of these gold shows last Friday, I heard someone say that "Gold mining is romantic." Excuse me? Romantic as in romance? As in being on some sort of higher inner or spiritual plain? An idealistic enterprise or romantic adventure on the same level as the creations of the Romantic artists and writers of old? What a crock of shit. I can't say it any plainer that that.
What that idiotic statement reminds me of is the "noble savage" rage of the 1800s in Europe and the United States. Back then primitive peoples (including cannibals, headhunters, and our own warring Native American tribes) were viewed in a highly romantic light by the city bound aristocrats, writers, journalists, and intellectuals of the day. Never mind that these folks rarely left the perimeters of their mansions, studios, or newspaper offices. They knew with absolute certainty that the aforementioned savages were...well...noble and lived lives of peace, contentment, harmony, and absolute freedom out there in the wilds. More recently, the film "Avatar" presented a 21st Century version of the whole "noble savage" routine. Interesting isn't it? How people continually see what they want to see and ignore the not-so-nice things. Things like cutting off and shrinking someone's head, chopping someone up and cooking him or her for dinner, or scalping some poor soul and then flaying him alive. Real romantic ain't it?
(A 19th Century artist's view of the "noble savage.")
(The 21st Century version of the "noble savage.")
I know some of you get sick and tired of hearing me say it, but I've been at small-scale gold prospecting and mining for over three and a half decades now. I've prospected and placer mined in the high mountains along rushing streams, dry washed in deserts and other assorted arid wastelands, dug test pits in grassy highlands, and slogged my way through marshy lowlands in various locations throughout the U.S. and Old Mexico. I've had my share of fun in this regard as well as plenty of frustration, failure, and success (not to mention my own ongoing dream of finally hitting the "big one"). I've been banged up pretty good but never bad enough to lay me out permanently; I've been sicker than a dog at times with chills, fever, and dysentery; I've ached all over and hardly been able to close my hands because they were so cut up and swollen; and I've literally slaved away like some Third World coolie on more occasions than I could possibly count. If that sounds romantic to you then I suggest you remove your head from your ass and get real for a minute.
Do I love small-scale gold prospecting and mining (and just about anything else connected to gold mining)? You're damn straight I do. I loved it from the get go and still do. It's a great pursuit whatever the downside and I'd recommend it to almost everybody (notice I said "almost"). There's great natural beauty involved in or near many mining locations, you can find your own personal "space" and sense of peace, and there are many good people out there who'll help you along the way. But here's the deal. Gold mining on any level is not for the faint of heart, the indolent or lazy, the whiners and the complainers, folks lacking drive or ambition, weak asses, blowhards or braggarts who can't back their play, and most of all...IT AIN'T FOR ROMANTICS!
(Just imagine this "romantic" as your pard in the goldfields...hoo boy...)
So if you're a modern-day version of one of those romantics of yesteryear day dreaming away the hours bout the "romance" of gold mining, do us all a favor and stay right where you are in that heated or air-conditioned mansion, office, or studio of yours. Keep that airhead of yours in those romantic clouds because gold prospecting and mining is definitely not going to be your cup of tea ol' chap.
The rest of us "realists" will carry on for you though. Not a problem...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org