Death Of Forever
More valuable than gold, but not as durable.
It started as a day's adventure, it lasted far longer.
I am down to my last half ounce, so I can share the experience that started in the early 1900's.
Three of us were on vacation and, as we did each summer, we were diving off Bimini on an old Spanish wreck we had explored before. The coral reef had claimed the ship nearly 400 years before and the wreck was not unknown to others who had searched it for gold and silver, antiques and trinkets. We were checking it one more time simply because we could and it was handy.
In the very deepest part of the wreck we uncovered what remained of the ship's store for its voyage back to Spain, probably with reports from Bimini's Governor Juan Ponce de Leon. A storm or some other mishap had run the ship aground on the reef. There it had lain for the centuries.
We salvaged what in an even earlier age would have been called amphora and were surprised to find that they still contained some liquid that the sea and the containers had preserved for our own voyage back to port.
On a dare to each other we decided to open one, first smelling, then sampling the contents.
We each had the same reaction, almost like having your bell rung by a ferocious tackle in football, followed by a tremendous feeling of well-being, tranquility, and a heightening of our senses.
The liquid contents were clear, and we presumed our three salvaged bottles were simply water stored for the voyage; part of a larger supply for drinking and cooking. We could only guess how many other such containers there might have been, but apparently other scavengers had made off with any others which had survived the wreck, for these were the last and only three we had found.
My friends were bachelors at the time. I was newly married but my wife and their girlfriends had gone shop-hopping for the afternoon.
When we all met for supper we toasted to "another day in paradise" by each having a jigger-sized sampling from my opened container from the wreck.
I watched carefully to see the women's reactions, and they appeared to be, and they described them as being, much the same as ours had been on the boat.
Examining the bottom of the container for markings, I saw none save the simple symbol for infinity, that one like an "8" either lying down or standing up depending on the position of the container.
Years after his death, Governor Juan Ponce de Leon , who was the governor of Puerto Rico before being sent to Bimini, had his memory purposely ridiculed falsely by a myth of his searching for the "Fountain of Youth" in Florida.
Our intellectual concern over our mortality, and what happens to our spirits when we die, drives the myth of such a fountain, together with the biblical story of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.The myth of the fountain has preserved the Spaniard's fame, even more than his actual accomplishments.
Given the myth and the strange properties we had recognized in the wreck's liquid, I had the liquid analyzed. The result was predictable: "Water rich in minerals."
My bachelor friends quickly sold their containers complete with their contents, one to have a little extra for college, and the other to have something extra toward his wife's engagement ring.
I hung onto mine, and when we gathered for annual reunions we toasted from it again as we had done that first evening.
Ultimately we began to realize that, while our friends and relatives aged normally, we seemed to stay younger and healthier. At first we blamed our youthfulness on being so physically active all our lives, good diets, plenty of unpolluted air where we had settled down, etc.
But one reunion we were surprised to each comment that our doctors had told us that we were "in incredible health, not even seeming to age!"
Could it be possible that the myth about Florida's "Fountain of Youth" had more to it than its intended ridicule story? Could it be that Governor Juan Ponce de Leon had found such a source of longevity, not in Florida, but in Bimini? Could it have been such a liquid that the wrecked ship was carrying in containers marked "Infiinity" on its ill-fated voyage, where we found them 400 years later?
All I know is that the three of us and our wives have now outlived our children, our families, and old friends, and at this upcoming of our annual reunions, some 106 years later, we will share the last of the contents from my container, and then see what comes next.
Wherever the source of the "Water rich in minerals" was, it was probably long ago covered by a parking lot or buildings. And, after all, "nothing lasts forever."
Was Forever running out?
© 2014 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
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