My Holy Grail Has Been Found – In Texas
Dawn and I recently went on a cruise. Since our ship’s port was Galveston, Texas, we decided to leave a day early and surprise our friend, Peter. His newlywed wife, Sharlette, had arranged to pick us up at the Houston airport and have us waiting in their living room when Peter arrived home from work, without him knowing. Since this was our first time meeting Peter and Shar in person, the surprise was pretty epic.
Peter and Shar spent the day showing us their favorite places in the Houston suburbs. Let me just say that Tex-Mex is one of my new favorite foods. Our hosts also arranged for us to meet another longtime online friend, Felicia a.k.a. Fishie. The entire visit was beyond awesome and over way too soon.
But there was something that happened while sitting quietly in Peter and Shar’s living room that still has me shaking my head in disbelief. First, let me give you a little background.
When I was 14 years old, I checked out a book from the local Coupeville, Washington library. I think the book may have been The Book of Five Rings. The only thing I remember for sure is that the book had drawings of samurai in it.
I had fashioned a crude light box out of a drawer by placing a desk lamp inside and a pane of glass over the open top. This allowed me to place a picture on top of the glass, a piece of paper over the top of the picture, and trace the picture which could be clearly seen through the paper, thanks to the light shining through it.
One illustration from the book especially caught my eye. It was of a samurai on the battlefield, pierced by several arrows. He had fallen to the ground and was using his sword to prop himself up. It wasn’t the violence of the image that struck me, but rather the obvious resolve of the samurai who refused to accept his fate and instead, continued to fight.
I traced the samurai picture and added it to a folder of other artwork, some original, some traced. That folder followed me as I grew up and moved from place to place. But somewhere along the way, I lost the samurai drawing.
I didn’t realize I had lost the picture until I began entertaining the idea of getting my first tattoo. As I contemplated what type of tattoo would best embody me and my life, something that I would want on me forever, the image of the samurai who refused to give up came to mind. I desperately and unsuccessfully searched for the picture. It was gone. I made up my mind that I would someday find that picture again.
Dawn and I have been back to my old hometown of Coupeville, Washington, a few times since moving to Wisconsin, 16 years ago. Every time we returned to Coupeville, I made sure to set aside some time to look through the library’s books on martial arts and Japanese culture, in the hopes of stumbling across the picture. Likewise, the few times we’ve visited Disney World, in Florida, I’ve pored through the books at Epcot Japan’s gift shop.
And yes, I’ve performed countless image searches on the Internet. I’ve spent hours upon hours looking at Google images, entering every related search term I could possibly think of. All to no avail. The picture of my resolute samurai just did not want to be found.
Flash forward to a sunny Saturday in June, 2014, where I found myself in Peter and Shar’s living room, in Sugar Land, Texas. Honestly, I don’t even remember what the conversation was about. Peter and I were chatting about nothing and everything. Peter may have said something about how amazing it is that you can find anything on the Internet. That may have stirred my memory of the samurai picture and I may have wistfully mentioned “the one that got away.”
As I described the picture to Peter, he began typing on Shar’s laptop. Before I had even finished my story about my decades-long search for the traced illustration, Peter turned the laptop towards me and, doubt written all over his face, casually said, “It’s not this one, is it?”
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
“How did you find it??” I asked in disbelief.
“I did a Google image search for ‘arrow riddled samurai,'” Peter replied.
“Riddled. That’s the one word I never thought to use.”
“Well, there’s a pretty good chance the picture wasn’t actually online when you searched. This is the only version I can find. It’s the only copy.”
And Peter found it.
Peter continued to remind me of his godlike picture-finding prowess for the rest of our visit, working it into completely unrelated conversation whenever he could. I can only imagine the victory lap he’ll take when I actually get the tattoo.
What can I say? I bow to the master. Peter found my holy grail.
Thank you, Peter. Thank you, Sharlette. Thank you, Texas. And thank you, Internet.
What’s your holy grail? Let me know in the comments. Internet Detective Peter Ream is on the case.
And please, if you have any additional information about this picture, its origin, or the meaning of the kanji, I’m all ears!