Six Questions with Forrest Fenn: Author of The Thrill of the Chase
The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir is Forrest Fenn’s eighth book. Placing smiles on those who read it, the book certainly demonstrates Forrest is following his philosophy; “We are all here for the pleasure of others.” The book shares thought-provoking stories from his life, and conveys valuable lessons which can be realized by others. As an avid collector, discoverer, and seeker of ‘lost items’, he experiences the thrill of the chase in his own life. In wanting others to know this joy, he included a poem in his book which, when deciphered, leads to a hidden bronze chest filled with gold and various precious treasures.
Although busy excavating an old Indian Pueblo, nearby where he lives in Santa Fe, and thoroughly appreciating more of his already 82 years of living, he took time to answer the following Six Questions. I am thankful for his wise sharing of words and hope you enjoy.
- 1Q) I am sure you are aware The Thrill of the Chase has captured many hearts and ambitions of those who have read your book. Are you happy with the way the search for your hidden treasure is going? Do you have any regrets; or more importantly, would you like to see anything different in the ways people are chasing the prize?
It was fortunate that two writers, Irene Rawlings and Margie Goldsmith, liked my book enough to review it in national publications. Those stories gave it ignition. The hidden treasure story in the book provided enough propulsion to keep it in the public view long enough for word of mouth traffic to broaden its desire across America and beyond. I am more than pleased with the way it has been accepted. What I didn’t expect was the number of people who immediately started searching maps and using Google Earth to locate their special spots. Many have read my book multiple times looking for additional clues, or even hints that might assist them in the hunt.
- 2Q) You mention one of your most cherished items in your collection is the first arrowhead you ever found. Over the years, what are some other relics you were most thrilled to discover? And why?
I found that little arrowhead when I was nine and it sent me on a lifelong journey of adventure and discovery. I wondered who made it and caused it to be resting at my feet for 1,000 years, waiting for me to pick it up. I still feel the excitement of that day.
In the Saharan desert of Libya I discovered thousands of war relics left over from the tank battles of WW-II: burned out tanks and shell casings were everywhere. And in close proximity were stone projectiles and crudely made hand axes that could have been 30,000 years old. I was looking at conflicts piled on top of conflicts. Who can imagine how many…
- 3Q) Relating to the previous question, since you continue to explore, is there an item which you would love to find still, but just haven’t yet?
There are so many bits of history that I would like to find: a Clovis point between the ribs of a Mammoth, a letter written by my father to my mother before they were married, a special fishing spot on the Madison River that no one alive knows about but me. The list is as endless as the search.
- 4Q) I think I read (but, correct me if I am mistaken), that although you would love the treasure to be found, the discovery of the chest would end the exciting mystery and adventure for those actively seeking, and this would be missed by you. Would you rather the treasure stay hidden for many more years, or are you in hopes that the chest will be found soon?
I am ambivalent about the treasure being found. When it is discovered I hope it is by some deserving person who is emotionally involved and has been rewarded by the other mountain thrills that come with the chase. If it is not found for several hundred years that would be fine with me.
One thing is certain, when a person discovers that beautiful bronze chest and opens it for the first time and sees the bracelet with hundreds of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds, and the 265 gold coins and hundreds of placer nuggets, he will be in awe. It is easy for me to predict the expression on his their face.
- 5Q) From receiving feedback on hunter’s ideas and methods about how to discover the location of the chest, do you feel confident your method in hiding the chest will eventually be understood and the chest be found? Please know, I am not asking for any specifics. My question is more like, do you still feel your poem will lead someone to the treasure?
The person who finds the treasure will have studied the poem over and over, and thought, and analyzed and moved with confidence. Nothing about it will be accidental. T. S. Eliot said:
We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
- 6Q) After reading your book, and sensing you have found a sincere peace and purpose in your life, but knowing others still struggle with this ultimate find, I wonder, what would your advice be to others for realizing the contentment it seems you now know? Do you feel the thrill of the chase (not the hunt) is vital?
There is an appropriate quote in the Duveen biography by Secrest: “They never knew that it was the chase they sought and not the quarry.” I see my memoir as being a story that was ordained by some unknown hand. It came to me at age eighty as though my entire life had been waiting for that moment. The bulk of the book was written in six weeks and phrases that I had never thought of before, suddenly appeared on my computer screen. I said in the forward that the book wrote itself. I had written seven books before this one, and it seemed that none of the lines crossed where they were supposed to, metaphorically speaking.
I don’t feel qualified to give advice but a few ideas that I would like to say have guided me are:
Stay in your job only if you love it.
Get out in the mountains and turn a log over to see what’s there.
Avoid those things that distract you from your self esteem.
The key word is contentment. If you can find it, everything else has already fallen in place.
Thank-you, Forrest. Your answers are beautiful. I definitely love the quote, “They never knew that it was the chase they sought and not the quarry.” But then I love many of the quotes you have used, or words you have written yourself. One such (from your book) comes to mind, “Time had taken them apart but it eventually brought them back together.”
Not only do you leave gold nuggets for us to search for in the mountains, but you leave them in your sharing of thoughts. No one, who reads the book, can say they couldn’t find treasure.
Thanks again for the Thrill of the Chase.
Six More Questions with Forrest Fenn (posted Feb. 4th, 2014)
Six Questions Yet Again with Forrest Fenn (posted Feb. 4th, 2015)
Six Questions with Forrest Fenn: Over Five Years of The Thrill of the Chase (posted Feb. 4th, 2016)