Sometimes a story can reveal the shame and fear we hide behind…. or the treasure we hide inside.
While on a Mythoself© course in Princeton with Joseph Riggio this month, the following story turned up in the middle of the night…..
There once was a handsome prince and he lived in Boston (or was it Barcelona? or Brisbane? never mind it was somewhere that started with a B) and he was very princely in his duties. Everyone thought well of him – nobles and peasants alike. That’s why they accepted some peculiarities- namely that the prince insisted on sleeping in a sound proof room in the dungeon of his castle. He cited experts in Sweden or Denmark, who said “soundproof sleeping in dungeons is beneficial to long life and health”. Of course no such experts existed, the prince was lying.
No one in his kingdom knew the real reason, the prince had a dark secret……
He was ashamed and so kept the secret to himself. Every night the prince woke up screaming and shouting. A prince can’t be seen or heard screaming and shouting in the night, it wasn’t right. No one must know. This was the reason he slept in the dungeon in a soundproof room.
It was the same thing every night….. The prince fell asleep and within moments he was dreaming. He was standing at a podium delivering a speech to his subjects. Behind him there was a huge stained glass window, probably 20 feet high, in front of him there was a room full of people.
The speech was going well and his subjects were listening intently. And then it started, quietly at first. A persistent scratching on the glass of the window. The scratching continued and got louder until the prince stopped speaking and then the whispering started. The thing that was scratching outside the window started whispering. Over and over and over again…… “I’m here…. I’m here…. I’m here…”.
And it wouldn’t stop.
Then the prince, when he could bear it no more, started shouting, “No, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, I have everything under control.” That’s when he woke up shouting and screaming, “No, you’re not good enough, I have everything under control”.
But then one night there was a problem with the basement, it was flooded. The prince couldn’t sleep in his soundproof room, he had to sleep in another room in the castle. He was very worried and tried to stay awake with strong coffee and loud television, but eventually he fell asleep.
Of course he awoke screaming and shouting.
His manservant heard him and ran to the room, but the prince assured him that everything was fine. When it happened twice more, the prince decided he would go out to the garden where dawn was just breaking. It was cold and he knew there was no way he could fall asleep out here. So he walked around the garden until he noticed how beautiful the dawning day was and he sat on a bench and watched it become what it was becoming.
And that’s when he fell asleep!
But this time something different happened……
The dream began in the same way. He was standing on the podium speaking when the scratching started. Then the voice, “I’m here.. I’m here”. Then the prince was about to start shouting but something stopped him. Somehow he remembered that he couldn’t shout because his manservant would hear. Instead, he decided to crouch down low under the podium, close his eyes and hide. He was very afraid and he began to whimper.
The voice outside the window got louder and louder and the scratching turned to knocking, and the prince started to sob and shake.
Suddenly there was a loud crash and the stained glass window shattered, some bits of coloured glass landed on the stage by the prince’s feet. Everything went quiet for a moment, then the prince heard the audience let out a collective sigh. He opened his eyes and poked his head around the side of the podium just in time to see an enormous magnificent white eagle glide through the broken window. As the prince rose to his feet the eagle came around to land near the podium and they both stood in awe of each other.
After a few moments the eagle blinked a slow blink and the prince said “Oh, you are here” and he put his hand on his own chest. And as he let out a deep sigh he said, “and I am enough”.
Slowly the prince became aware that he was sitting in the garden watching the sunrise and there was a white eagle gliding over the east wall. His manservant came running down the path with a blanket saying “Sir, are you okay?” and the prince replied,
“Yes, yes of course……. I’m perfect”.
As the butler handed him the blanket the prince said “Be a good man and move my personal stuff to the large bedroom on the main wing. I’m going to be sleeping there from now on.”