Last updated: June 26. 2014 3:58PM - 395 Views
By Rick Watson Guest Columnist

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There are hidden jewels all around us. Rarely do blinking neon signs point the way to them, but they are there for those who look.

The rain moved in at dawn with rolling thunder and lightening jabbing at the grey-blue sky. It tapered off after lunch and we ventured out to get a little exercise and let the dogs run.

There in the grass not far from the path was a patch of tiny purple flowers. I squatted down on squeaky knees to get a better view and to snap a picture with my phone. They would have been easy to miss, but I’m so glad I didn’t.

You find jewels in unexpected places. They are often hidden in plain view. The first time I went to New York was in July of 1971. My duty station was Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, but New York City was a short bus ride away, and my first Saturday up north, I went into the city.

As I walked through the streets, I came upon an art show on the sidewalk. Well actually, it was a kid about fifteen wearing tattered pants and a corduroy shirt. I expected the paintings to be crude and unimaginative. He had his art leaning on vacant buildings and hanging on a fence. As I approached, the young man said in broken English, “Would you like to buy one of my pictures?”

What I saw was not what I expected. His paintings were pieces that could easily have been hanging from the walls of an art gallery or museum. Some of them were simply stunning.

I was broke at the time so I pulled my pockets inside out to indicate I had no money, and walked on. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he became a successful artist. His works were hidden jewels.

Through the years, I’ve found hidden jewels in other unexpected places too. Some of them were old folks who’d outlived their families and were left to pass the years in nursing homes. It would be easy to assume they had nothing left to say, but I have coaxed stories from some of them that put chill bumps on my arms. All it took to find these jewels was a little time and willing ears.

One thing that hinders us from seeing hidden jewels is that we wear blinders.

Years ago Jilda and I went to a festival at Horse Pens 40. I’d stepped up to the concession stand to buy some sweet tea when I heard some guitar music from behind the barn. I walked around to listen for a moment. I wasn’t expecting much because I was sure all the stars were on the stage.

I noticed a shy boy that weighed at least 300 pounds. He had a guitar and I figured he was listening to some of the more experienced players to pick up a few new guitar licks.

The pickers took turns playing lead in an old tune. When it came to the boy’s turn to play, I heard the most incredible flat-picking I’d ever heard.

These days I’ve tried to lose the blinders because you can never tell where you will find hidden jewels.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, Life Happens, is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: rick@rickwatson-writer.com

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