You Are the Treasure

In the early 90’s, I was working on two distinct career paths, uncertain which one I should follow. One path was to finish my masters degree in counseling and proceed from that into private practice as a psychotherapist. My masters thesis was still a work in progress; I’d been distracted from finishing it when I had the opportunity to record an album of my music, fulfilling a long-cherished dream.

While still contemplating the direction I should pursue, I was invited to California, where a radio station wanted to interview me about my songwriting process. Interpreting this event as an indication that my music career might be taking off, I made the trip to Northern California, eager to see what would happen. I wanted a clear indication of which path to follow, hoping for a “sign” that would tell me which path might lead to the treasure of success.

While driving up the coast, we stopped at various shops along the way, asking them to stock my cassette so that people would have access to it after hearing the radio interview. In one store, while they were playing my music in the background, I walked around and looked at the various greeting cards on display.

One card in particular caught my eye, for it had the image of a woman standing on a beach, a jewel-filled treasure chest open before her. In the background was the outline of San Francisco Bay, where we had begun our journey up the coast. Since I was looking for indications of treasure on this trip, I wondered if this was the “sign” that would direct me forward. When I opened the card to read the message inside, I was surprised to discover this message: “You Are the Treasure”.

I felt a shiver as I realized that the treasure I’d been seeking was already within me, not in any outside measure of success. My treasure was the process of doing my music and finishing my thesis, without worrying which would be successful, for each path was an important part of my evolution. Cherishing myself, as well as the process of working toward each goal, was the treasure I’d been seeking.

I finished my thesis that year, started my private practice, and continued to develop my music and performance skills. I have since learned to focus on the treasure of my talents, and the joy they provide, rather than on the specter of success that could come from them. As a result, I have a rich experience of life that embodies many different talents and interests. By learning to focus on the process of challenging ourselves, rather than the outcome that might come from our efforts, we tap into the vast store of treasures that lie within us, waiting to be discovered. All too often, we get caught up in delusions of grandeur, hoping for fame or riches as an indicator of success. If we instead turn our attention to the treasures within us, we can better manage whatever is to come.

To this day, I keep that card handy, to remind myself where I need to focus my attention. Whenever I get caught up in worrying about the future, I’m reminded that the chest of jewels is merely a reflection of the real treasure that lies within.

© 2001 Marybeth Bethel