Why did Forrest Fenn put strands of his hair in the sealed olive jar?

The simplest answer: So his hair could be used as a basis for DNA testing to prove, without equivocation, that it was the owner of those strands of hair had placed the treasure in its hiding place.

That also means it is very likely that Fenn’s autobiography end’s with a paragraph something like this:

“I, Forrest Fenn, wrote this autobiography, placed it in this olive jar, and sealed the olive jar with wax. I, Forrest Fenn, placed this treasure in its hiding place with the expectation that, someday, someone would find it. I, Forrest Fenn, am of sound mind. I, Forrest Fenn, make this decision freely. I, Forrest Fenn, transfer the title of ownership of this treasure to the person who finds it. I, Forrest Fenn, have placed strands of my hair in the sealed olive jar with the expectation that they will be used for DNA testing as evidence that the preceding statements were written by me.”

Here’s my problem with it.

Proof of “ownership” via DNA testing would only be meaningful if the following two conditions existed:

  1. Fenn was still living when the treasure was found.
  2. The treasure was found before Fenn published “The Thrill of the Chase” in 2010.

If Fenn was no longer living when the treasure was found, a DNA sample would be irrelevant.

If Fenn hid the treasure after he published his book, a DNA sample would be irrelevant, regardless of when the treasure was found.

To put it another way, if Fenn hid the treasure before publishing his book, and if someone found the treasure before he published his book, the strands of hair would have value. Otherwise, they are meaningless.

Bottom Line: We believe Fenn hid the treasure before 2009/2010. That he had the foresight to place strands of his hair in the olive jar support that hypothesis.

Connections, Synchronicity & Segues

Fenn writes like he thinks.

And, he thinks in compact, self-contained packages (CSCPs*), the current one connected to the previous one as much as it is to the following one. Then, as he moves through his line of thought, he builds cross connections. Eventually, each CSCP is virtually connected to all the other CSCPs. As they age, some of them float out to the edge of his cranial universe, far away enough from the center of mental gravity that they escape, never to return. Some hang on near the edge and are modified by it. They become memory anomalies, or as he calls them, “aberrations.”

Sooner or later, when he needs them, he pulls some of the related CSCPs together to form a new, complete thought.

Then, he writes.

The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung gave the process a name. He called it synchronicity.

Synchronicity is what leaves Fenn’s audiences with a sense of a mind that’s in constant motion. Eclectic, yet organized. Artistic, yet logical. Organic, yet mechanical. Cunning, yet caring. Twisted, yet aligned.

To me, the synchronous manner in which he thinks, then writes, is what leads to what I refer to as “The Fenn Segue.”

(Segue: pronounced seg-way. Definition: to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene, or part to another.)

I noticed it the first time in my reading of the chapter entitled “First Grade,” subtitled “Lanier School,” beginning on pg 16 of “The Thrill of the Chase.”

It begins, “My father was a teacher at Lanier School…” There’s a photo of his father captioned, “Mr. Fenn, Principal” on the opposite page.

One could assume that this chapter was going to be about his father. And, for the most part, it is.

olivejarkeyIt is, except for the SEGUE about John Charles whatever, who would sometimes “…bring a little jar of green olives to school and wave that thing…” in Fenn’s face. Description of the jar of olives follows. The first time I read the chapter, I was so distracted by the olive jar segue, that I had trouble concentrating while reading the rest of the chapter. Instead of following my eyes reading, my mind was asking itself the same question Fenn asked the readers, “What was that all about anyway?”

Why would you segue out of a perfectly good story, to tell a completely unrelated one?

Synchronicity. It was not unrelated. It was connected. The olive jar, a CSCP that had traversed some distance out into the universe in his mind, was snapped back into his current CSCP of thought. Lanier School? Probably.

(As I am writing this, I recalled a CSCP of A****** Garcia, the overweight, abused bully two grades ahead of me at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Santa Fe, who would seek me out on the playground and beat the crap out of me. On one of my leaves from the service, I was informed he had killed himself in a car accident on I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He was drunk. He killed his girlfriend in the process, and left his wife and daughters with almost nothing, except unpleasant memories.)

By the way, the previous paragraph was a classic example of a segue.

I’ll bet some of you had the olive jar kid in your lives too. I’ll bet just reading this elicits the memory of your olive jar kid. Don’t have that kind of memory? Then you were probably the olive jar kid.

That, of course, is not the only Fenn segue in the book. The “horseshoe” segue in “Dancing With the Millennium” on pg 135 is a good example. There are several others. Even the “Treasure” chapter beginning on pg 127 entitled “Gold and More,” subtitled “Somewhere North of Santa Fe,” contains a couple, including the dream about Captain Kidd and Gardiner’s Island. He also, in the same chapter, writes that he placed his 20,000 word autobiography in a glass jar, sealed with wax, into the treasure chest.

I felt like there was something important about the Fenn segues. Upon completing my first reading of the book, I returned to its beginning and made notes of each of the Fenn segues.  I especially noted the mention of the olive jar at the beginning of the book and his mention of the jar containing his autobiography near the end.

Focused on finding the treasure, I didn’t think much about it. In the grand scheme of value…well – his autobiography wasn’t an egg-sized gold nugget. Was it?

I didn’t think much about the jar until one day I heard him talking about his autobiography in the jar.

A jar he sealed with wax.

And, a jar he put in the treasure chest before he hid it.

An olive jar.

Yes. He said it was an olive jar.

They key, I believe, to understanding the Fenn Segue is in the olive jar.


* You won’t find Compact Self Contained Packages (CSCPs) in the literature. I made up the phrase to describe how I think Fenn thinks.