Once upon a time, there was a woman named Faith Currant. She lived in Los Angeles and worked as a Hollywood screenwriter and also a political strategist, where she did absurd things like take conference calls at 2 a.m. and work every day of the year, including on her birthday.
She longed for a simpler and more meaningful life, and so one day she went out and got one.
Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple, because nothing worth having ever is. She wasn’t sure where to start or what she was looking for or even what specifically was wrong with the life she had. She only knew that there was something out there waiting for her to find it, something that she only knew about from dreams and sometimes books and most of all, from a bone-deep feeling that there was a life out there meant for her that she had to find. But as the years and then the decades went by, one after the other, she felt more and more trapped by her situation and less and less hopeful that she’d ever be able to sort it all out.
Now if you know anything at all about fairy tales, you know that this is just exactly the point in the story when Something Important Happens. Sure enough, one day she was feeling especially discouraged at the sorry state of things, and a little voice in her head said,”If you follow my advice, I will lead you to three treasures that will help you create the life you long for.”
Faith had never heard this little voice before, and even though she wasn’t usually given to following the advice of strange voices in her head, somehow she knew right away that it was the sort of voice that you could trust. But she was not (usually) a foolish woman. Because she had studied them for many years, she knew the rules of fairy tales — nothing is given without a price — so she asked what the price was for the three treasures.
“When you have received the three treasures, I will require a service from you.”
Faith asked the Little Voice what the service was, but the Little Voice — as is common in fairy tales — wouldn’t tell her. “But you must agree to perform this service or I can’t lead you to the treasures you seek.”
Faith knew well enough that this sort of bargain often turned out badly in fairy tales, but by this time, she was desperate. She’d already tried everything she could think of to get to that life she knew was out there somewhere and nothing had worked. And she truly couldn’t imagine that anything would be more miserable than taking conference calls at 2 a.m. and working everyday, even on her birthday. So she agreed to do as the Little Voice asked.
“Very well,” said the Little Voice. “You will find the first of the three treasures deep in the woods, where the winters are long and there is no one else for many miles.”
This wasn’t quite what she’d expected the Little Voice to say, but a bargain was a bargain, so she and her dogs and her cat went to New Mexico, where they lived in a little round house called a yurt in the deep woods of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where the winters were long, and there was no one else for many miles. And every day, even when the snow was over her dogs’ heads and her cat was curled up by the fire and quite sensibly out of the cold, she would walk the little path through the forest. And although she was very happy for the first time in a very long time, she wondered about the treasure and how to find it, and she’d ask the Little Voice to give her a clue.
But no matter how nicely she asked or how much she longed to hear it, the Little Voice said nothing more and she started to wonder if it had abandoned her, or if she’d made the whole thing up. Then one day the Little Voice finally spoke up and said (and it must be said that the Little Voice said this a little impatiently), “I haven’t abandoned you. If you listen carefully, you will hear the first of the three treasures.”
So Faith listened carefully as she walked in the woods, but she heard nothing at all except the wind in the trees and the scurrying of the squirrels and lizards and birds and the beat of her own heart. And she realized that what she’d found in the little round yurt in the woods was the treasure of Silence, and she recognized it right away as one of the things she’d been longing for when she imagined the life she wanted. And so she thanked the Little Voice for the gift, and lived for a few more years in the little round yurt in silence. But after awhile, her days in the little round yurt came to an end and it was time to go home.
“Be careful,” warned the Little Voice. “When you go home, the world will be full of many people do not believe that the treasure of silence is valuable. You must resist listening to them and carefully guard the first treasure, or you will never find the rest of what you seek.”
Faith promised the Little Voice that she would carefully guard the gift of silence. And then she and her dogs and her cat and went home to Los Angeles, where she lived in a little cabin in Topanga Canyon and tried very hard to keep safe and remember the gift of silence.
But although she tried as hard as she could, soon the busyness of the world and the people around here became overwhelming and though she tried hard to remember her time in the little round yurt and the gift of silence, it wasn’t long before she became just like the people around here again, running around doing things like taking conference calls at 2 a.m. and working every day of the year, including on her birthday. And one of these people doing this was her partner, whom she loved very much, but who didn’t understand why she was’t happy doing these things. “You are lazy and you will never amount to anything,” he told her when he was angry (which was quite a bit of the time, actually).
And just as before, Faith became very unhappy as she’d been before the little round yurt in the woods, and once again felt a deep longing for a life she knew was waiting for her, if she could only figure out what and where it was. She longed for the Little Voice to help her find the other two treasures, but the Little Voice was silent, and after awhile, she stopped listening for it and after awhile longer, she forgot about the Little Voice and the gift of silence just as the Little Voice had warned her not to, and she sunk back into the despair she’d been in before she went to New Mexico.
But then one day, when she was feeling especially discouraged, the Little Voice returned . “You have not heeded my warning,” it said. “You’ve forgotten about the gift of silence.” And Faith said, yes, she had, but she didn’t know how to hold onto silence when everyone in the world was so busy and loud and expected her to be those things, too. The Little Voice replied, “If you walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, you will find the answer to that in the second treasure.” And even though she was a little nervous about walking hundreds of miles through a foreign country it in the middle of winter, she was so unhappy in her life and so happy to hear the Little Voice again that she packed her backpack and went to Spain to walk the Way.
On the Camino, she got very sick and almost quit about a hundred times because the walk was so difficult for her. But she didn’t quit, because the Little Voice walked with her the whole time and whispered in her ear to keep going, “Keep walking and you will find what you’re searching for.” And because she remembered that the Little Voice had been right about New Mexico and the little round yurt and the silence, she kept going. She walked and walked and walked some more, up hills and down, through rain and cold and illness, all the way to the End of the World. And as she stood on the cliff overlooking the sea, she knew for the first time that she could survive in the world even when she did things that the rest of the world, including her partner, didn’t agree with or understand. And she realized that the Little Voice had led her to the second treasure, gift of Solitude.
You can probably tell already that this next bit is going to be a little sad, because when when she went back to Los Angeles, she did another very hard thing and told her partner, “I love you, but I have to live the life I have longed for and that is very different from the one you want me to live.” And even though she now had a broken heart, she trusted the Little Voice when it told her she’d be fine on her own, now that she had the treasure of solitude.
And then the Little Voice said, “Your journey isn’t over yet. If you go north, to the sea, and live there alone for awhile, you will find the third treasure.” And even though she was very tired after her long walk, and very sad because of her broken heart, she trusted the Little Voice, and so she did as it asked.
She found a little house at the edge of the sea in Oregon and lived there for a season with just her dog and her cat. And because she was very tired and sad, she spent a great deal of time being very quiet and still. In the mornings, she sat at her window and watched and dreamed, and because she was very quiet and still, the deer came to graze in her yard and when spring came, they brought their fawns to graze alongside them. In the afternoons, she walked in the woods, and because she was very quiet and still, the tree beings taught her their secret songs. And as the sun set, she went to the shore of the sea, and because she was very quiet and still, the waves crept up to her and whispered the names of every creature who’d ever been, including her own and her beloved’s, and her broken heart started to heal just a little bit. And she thanked the Little Voice for leading her to her the third treasure, which she recognized as the gift of Stillness.
Then the Little Voice said to her, “I’ve given you three treasures — Silence, Solitude and Stillness. These treasures are more precious than all the gold in the world, because they will unlock the secrets of your heart. They are the keys to creating the life you long for.”
And Faith thanked the Little Voice because she knew it spoke the truth, and she promised she would be very careful with the three treasures. And then, because she knew the rules of fairy tales, she remembered her bargain and asked what the service was that the Little Voice required of her, and the Little Voice replied, “Now that you have found these three treasures, you must go back into the world and share them with others, just as I shared them with you.”
Oh, Faith cried, but if I go back into the world, how will I protect the treasures? Won’t they be drowned out once again by the people who take conference calls at 2 a.m. and work everyday, even on their birthdays?”
“You will need to be very careful that this doesn’t happen,” the Little Voice agreed. “But these people, who take conference calls at 2 a.m. and work every day, even on their birthdays, are the very people who need your help. And the three treasures will help you to be brave and to do this work.”
And because Faith understood the rules of fairy tales and a bargain was a bargain, she promised she’d do as the Little Voice asked, and so she came back from the little house at the edge of the sea to begin creating the life she dreamed of all those years, and to help those who hadn’t yet found the three treasures.
As of this writing, she lives in Topanga Canyon, California, with her magical dog, River, and Moe, the coolest cat in the universe, and she gets to do whatever she wants on her birthday and never has to wake up at 2 a.m. unless she chooses to. And after a lifetime of longing, she is in the process of creating her dream home — a little cottage in the woods where she can live with River, Moe and a couple of rescue donkeys and, of course, Solitude, Silence and Stillness, and where she can share the three treasures with others who also long for something they don’t know how to find….
….so they can live happily ever after, too.:-)