Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Joys of Finding

July 14, 2002

What a summer for finding stuff! Just this past week we've had exciting announcements about finding a 7-million-year-old hominid skull, a 4,700-year-old copper foundry, a 500-year-old drawing by Michelangelo and a six-decade-old PT boat that sank in the Pacific but later helped float the reputation of a man who would be president.

An African college student found the fossilized skull protruding from crumbling sandstone in Chad's wind-swept Djurab Desert. The find is already changing theories on human evolution. UC San Diego archeologists found the copper factory in southern Jordan. The complex of 70 rooms crushed by an earthquake and frozen in time provides a broken window into the unknown sophistication of the Early Bronze Age.

A vacationing Scottish museum director shuffling through Box 366 of uncataloged drawings in New York's Cooper-Hewitt design museum found the Michelangelo. It was purchased in 1942 with others for $60. The drawing's worth today: possibly $12 million. Shipwreck hunter Robert Ballard, who found the Titanic and the Bismarck, has now found the fabled PT-109 of Lt. John F. Kennedy in 1,200 feet of water off the Solomon Islands.

We sometimes have a misbegotten sense in this technological, computerized world that we know more than we do. It's good to have regular reminders of the pure instant joy of finding something new, even if it's old. The simple serendipity of finding a rummage sale gem or a coin on a beach, whether sought or unexpected. It's like a momentary surprise party that's private. Recall the rush of relief in finding a missing key or wallet. Remember the delight in finding a grandmother's diary in an attic box, a missing family photo in an ignored drawer or an ancient crayoned drawing by a child who was no Michelangelo.

Once there was a father and son whose occasional hobby was creating things to be found by others far away, stuffing messages into bottles and throwing them into the sea. Often, the father would tuck the boy into bed at night and they would wonder together where the bottles might be floating at that moment, how they would be found and by whom. Such speculations created warm memories and dreams about exotic places and interesting people far away.

After the amazing finds of recent days by all those interesting people in so many exotic places far away, we can only imagine what other midsummer surprises are waiting out there. Who will find them? Where? And what stories will they tell?

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|