There is a story in the Thousand and One Nights called The Ruined Man who Became Rich Again Through a Dream.
A rich man from Baghdad became so poor he had to do manual labor all day long to make ends meet. One night he had a dream–a voice told him to go to Cairo, where he would find his fortune.
So the man set off to Cairo. It was far away, mind you, and not an easy trip back then. It took a long time, and when he finally arrived, it was nighttime. He crept into a mosque, and curled up to sleep.
Unfortunately, a band of thieves robbed the mosque that night. While Our man slept, the thieves stole everything they could grab. When the police arrived, they found the sleeping man, beat him furiously, and threw him in jail.
A few days later, the police chief called the man from his cell and asked where he was from. Baghdad, the man replied. The police chief then demanded, “What were you doing in the Mosque?”
The man said, “A dream told me I would find my fortune in Cairo. But all I have found so far was a beating from you!”
The Chief burst out laughing. “You fool!” he chortled. “I have had a dream three times, telling me to go to a certain house in Baghdad,” (here he described it in detail), “with a fountain in the garden–and underneath the fountain is buried a fabulous treasure. But I am not so stupid as to go there!” He gestured towards the cells and warned, “You follow the voice of a dream, and this is what you get!”
The Chief then took pity on the poor man and gave hime some money. “Go back to your home,” he said. “Listen no more to the voices of dreams.”
The man went straight back to Baghdad, for the house the Chief had described was none other than his very own! When he got home, he dug under the fountain in his garden–and there he found the fabulous buried treasure!
This man’s treasure was right in his own backyard. That wealth was within his grasp the whole time, but he needed to gain greater perspective before he could find it.
As artists, our creative treasure is also in our own backyard–but sometimes we, too, need greater perspective. Artistry and creativity exist within us all–but sometimes we can’t see them.
We are all intuitive, creative, and beautiful. But life is hard sometimes, and we lose sight of our treasure. What with the struggle of daily life, the superficial models around us, and the discouragement showered upon us, we may never realize our dreams.
It’s so sad.
We’re so tired, so hemmed in by our obligations and responsibilities.
How do we nurture our creative soul?
Self compassion is NOT self esteem, self pity, or self indulgence.
Self compassion IS self kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” –Kristen Neff, self-compassion.org
What if we try changing our perspective? What if we try being kind to ourselves for a while?
Maybe when we stop raining on our own parade, we might be able to rediscover our treasure more easily.