Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book, Big Magic, “…you have treasures hidden within you –extraordinary treasures—and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.” Join us today for some treasure hunting – finding and sharing chests of gold and diamonds.
Stories are our lives in language. Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. I’m Lori Lee, and I’m excited for our future together of telling stories, evaluating our own stories, and lifting ourselves and others to greater places because of our control over our stories. This podcast is about empowerment and giving you, the listener, ideas to work with in making your stories work for you. Story power serves you best when you know how to use it
The inspiration for the title of today’s podcast comes from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. In the first few pages of her book she challenges the reader. She says, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” She is talking to creatives, people who write, act, dance, create. I proffer the same question to everyone. Within each of us are individual and unique talents, gifts and interests. I believe that our interests are the things we are meant to pursue. They are the compass that points us in the direction of our destiny. Which I’ve always considered great news because that means my destiny lies along a path I’m going to be interested in.
Gilbert says, “I don’t know what’s hidden within you. I have no way of knowing such a thing. You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you’ve caught glimpses. I don’t know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.”
Michael Strasner puts it another way. “Don’t rip the world off,” he says. I attended a leadership conference that he facilitated. As he pushed for each of us to stretch our imaginations, our courage, and our commitment, he often came back to that idea…”Don’t rip the world off.” You have gifts and beauty and incredible things to share with your tribe, your people, maybe even with the world on a larger scale, and now is not the time to play small. “Life is now!” he often said. If not now, when will you start living brave, bold and giving what you have to give…telling the story you have to tell?
I have always been fascinated by the array and variety of talents and abilities that people have. It’s one of my favorite things– to come to recognize an individual’s gifts, and I get excited about what those gifts mean; how they bless the person and give them their own color and power; how they make the world more diverse, richer with kindness or music, art or insight, wisdom or poetry; how they bring something different than I bring, and how that makes my life richer, and the world richer because they are alive and in it. Getting to know a person is like unveiling a new work of art and getting to appreciate how much better the world is because Dan, Sara, or Amanda is in the world. And EVERYONE of us has our own, personal treasure. What is yours? How do you share it?
In the story, the Count of Monte Cristo, the main character is wrongly imprisoned and after years of solitary confinement eventually meets another man who is imprisoned and they share a secret escape route as they try to dig their way out of the forsaken prison where the lost are surrendered and forgotten. He and the man become friends, partners in their escape, and the older gentleman teaches him to read, teaches him history, and even teaches him fencing. Right before he dies of an accidental cave-in, he gives to Edmond a treasure map that he has always kept hidden. Through devious plight, Edmond makes a body switch with the dead man, and when the prison guards haul a body down the hill to throw into the seas, it is really Edmond. After his daring escape, he embarks on the journey of finding the hidden treasure. It’s a famed treasure that is known for its massive abundance, trunks and trunks of gold coins, diamonds, and other precious jewels. In order to find the treasure Edmond goes through many experiences, making alliances, securing a boat, a partner, and of course, all the while he isn’t certain it will be there, or that he will find it, but he believes, he perseveres, he gets creative, and he fights his way forward – quite literally, with sword, gun, and pure intent. Eventually, his hard work pays off and he finds the incredible stash on the island of Monte Cristo, but even once he finds it he must dive into the caves below the island and pull the trunks up, hundreds of them, one at a time. He must then carry and cajole them all to safety. It is a herculean effort. He buys the island of Monte Cristo and proceeds to unfold a life of adventure and daring revenge. It’s a great book, and movie, I highly recommend it, but I retell this cliff-note account to point out that our buried treasure isn’t just sitting on the front porch. Sometimes the greatest gifts are dug for, hungered after, developed and not given up on. While we certainly have natural gifts, things that come so easily to us that we are unaware they are not easy for everyone, we also have gifts that can be developed. Gifts and treasures of great value, if we’ll put the time and energy into finding them.
While I would guess that most know what they are good at, have an idea of the treasures within them, if you’d like to seek within yourself for the hidden treasures in your soul, dig a little deeper, ask yourself – What makes me feel alive? Is it painting? Is it reading to your children? Is it throwing a party? Is it a competition at the office? Is it Pinterest? What do other people really appreciate about me? Do you get compliments about being a good listener, being thoughtful, being a good friend, going the extra mile? What natural abilities do you bring to the table? Are you great at making people laugh, promoting the weekends activities with your energy, organizing your family? Some of these things I’ve mentioned are things within ourselves that get taken for granted all the time. We look at the more obvious talents like singing, dancing, skiing, playing guitar – something that’s outward and obvious, while other fabulous and important skills that are perhaps less obvious get overlooked. In high school, I remember preparing for pageants and struggling with the talent portion because you can’t exactly shoot free-throws or ski down a stage. I ended up playing the xylophone because I was a percussionist and that was the most acceptable form of performance talent that I possessed. We do what we can, right?
There are three types of treasures – One’s we’ve buried, ones we’ve claimed, and ones we haven’t discovered yet. If we’ve buried your treasures that usually stems from self-doubt. One’s we’ve claimed we are aware of, proud of, and share them. The one’s we haven’t discovered may be either things we do so naturally that we aren’t even aware they are treasure because we assume that anyone can do them, and/or things you would be wonderful at with some digging and shining. There are possibly some in all three categories.
I have a friend who loves to sew. With her creations she not only creates her art, but she gifts others with beautiful bags, aprons, covered notebooks, and any other creations she decides to undertake. While she sews she teaches her daughter the trade, cultivating with her daughter talent and self-esteem. Just by focusing on this one talent she has developed she creates works of art, rejuvenates herself, blesses and teaches her daughter and shares her gifts with others, which blesses their lives when they have a fun apron, diaper bag, or journal from a dear friend.
I have another friend who is an occupational therapist by trade. She takes a couple weeks each year and travels to foreign countries on mini-missions with her church to bless those who do not have the money and resources to seek help in dealing with debilitating situations. In this two weeks she takes off to use her skill she shows her children by example what it means to serve and care for others; she lightens the burdens of the poor and sick; she finds her own reward within her service, and she keeps on top of her professional game.
Both of these women have many more talents than just the one I have mentioned, but you can see how much difference one can make with even just one talent. When you start unearthing all the treasures you have to offer and sharing them with the world, just think of the bounty.
Does it excite you to think of the joy in living fully focused on the things you are good at, celebrating your skills and sharing your gifts? I think it’s imperative to living well! It’s a must to be true to God who has blessed you with these gifts, it is a must to fulfill who you are in the greatest space of joy, and it is a must to live your best life and to impact those you can impact. Often when we are searching for our purpose in life, what we are really looking for is how we can best use our skills and our time to create a meaningful existence.
Let me share one of Rumi’s poems:
Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances. That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love, be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
I love that poem, especially that last line. “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” There are hundreds of ways to write your story. There are hundreds of ways to be beautiful and let the beauty we love be what we do.
In Matthew 25 in the New Testament, there is the parable of the talents. In the parable, the master gives gifts of money, called talents, to his servants. He then leaves town and waits to see what the servants will do with the treasure he has given each of them. Some of them invest and develop what was given to them, for whom the master praises their wise stewardship upon his return, but one is afraid and buries his talent. The bible says that this man was chastised, and what the master originally gave him was taken away, while those who developed and created more with what they were given had more added unto them. While parables, by their very nature, have a variety of interpretations, I interpret this one to plainly state that God has given each of us treasure or gifts within ourselves. He then has left us on our own to see what we will do with what he has given us.
Are there any of you out there right now who are saying, “I don’t have any talents?” “I’m not good at anything?” “I’m not sure what my passion is.” –I’ve heard that refrain plenty. I want to quickly point out that those are the one-liner stories that we talked about in episode 06, and they don’t serve you. Get over it. If you need to do a little digging to find your buried treasure, that’s okay, to be expected, but I promise it’s there. Ask some of those closest to you what they most appreciate about you. What they feel like you are good at. You might be surprised at the answers you get. I know I was when I tried it. I had to put up with my brothers laughing at me and saying I was fishing for compliments, but the responses were still really fascinating and unexpected. And remember that skills like listening, being a good friend, knowing how to make people laugh, how to organize a closet or bring people together. These are talents and skills that DO NOT get to be overlooked because they aren’t featured on American’s Got Talent. These are the skills, and others like them, that make all the difference in creating a beautiful world. Silence any voice in your head that tells a story of doubt regarding the treasures within you. It simply is impossible. No one is here without gifts and talents to share and develop. Noone. Choose to cultivate stories in your head that support you in discovering, accepting and celebrating your own beauty and treasure. This is where you hop bravely in the boat, put out to sea, pirates be damned. We choose the narratives we allow to play. Choose one that supports you and all the original beauty that resides in you, or you rip yourself off.
A story is never as good unless there is a cast of characters who are diverse and interesting. Embrace your diversity. Embrace the treasure that is yours. Don’t wish for someone else’s. Dive into the water and pull up those chests of gold and share with the world every beautiful piece you have to offer. Don’t rip the world off either, because the other option is to leave all your buried treasure, down there, buried, untouched. Are you brave enough for the adventure of finding all the gold and jewels inside of you? Of course, you are…
This week’s challenge is to identify a treasure within you, and then to really focus on it. Remind yourself each morning, as you look in the mirror, how awesome you are because of let say, you are one organized son of a gun. Find a way to use and share it, because you can.
Share this podcast with a friend so everyone starts digging for those buried treasure and sharing with each other. Make the world richer. See you next week on the Love Your Story podcast. Please go to www.loveyourstorypodcast.com and sign up for our weekly inspirational thought!