The Prize Within is a plaid-shirt Masterpiece

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved his art class in school. It was one of the few places he felt safe and he could be himself. In that world of bold strokes and bright colors, defined by the oversized plaid shirt he wore as an art smock, the little boy could hide from the shoulda’s of his stark, black-and-white world.

But that plaid shirt-turned-smock was too colorful for his monochromatic reality. His family didn’t approve of his dream. He was traumatized by that judgment.

Many of us have what I’m calling these plaid-shirt dreams — beliefs or dreams that we understand will not be deemed appropriate by those we love. So we hide those truths or, if we’re brave, we introduce our thoughts in a distant, third-person way in order to protect ourselves from harsh judgment. When the mythical question is rejected, we reject ourself for ever having considered such a ridiculous concept, and our plaid-shirt dream gets folded up and tucked away.

I think back to all of the times I hid my own unacceptable, plaid-shirt dreams because they didn’t fit into my self-made reality. The truth I had created became my prison in which I tried to hide. My flannel desires would have to wait.

Recently, my friend, Stacy Davids, published a book about a little girl and her beloved plaid shirt.(

It took me back in time. No, I did not wear a plaid shirt. I wore what society said was appropriate. At an early age, I learned how to work within the matrix of reality in order to fit in. I did what was deemed right, ignoring myself. I was never authentic after that.

To those who knew me, I was appropriately happy and settled in my life. My future was mapped out and secure. I seemed to be everything people thought I was.

But I was hiding.

Underneath, I was not being true to myself. In protecting myself from judgment, I forgot my truth. I had become a shadow of myself. Sometimes I think I still am that shadow.

On this journey of spiritual development on which I am now hiking, a requirement is authenticity, so I have shrugged off the layers of protection to uncover that secret plaid-shirt reality. My truth.

It has not been an easy task. I make mistakes every day.

I’m still pretending. I now have a new image, and I try desperately to keep it real. How can I keep it real, though, if it’s still just another mask? In this reality in which I am embroiled, I think I need an image. A role. A goal. That’s where I’m wrong.

Do I know how to be true to myself? Do I really know who I am or have I hidden my truth so deeply that, like an ancient Mayan temple, it will never be found?

Rebuilding after awakening spiritually is more difficult than many believe, especially if, like me, you dress yourself up in layer after layer of costumes in order to ensure acceptance.

Shaking off these layers is akin to sculpting a masterpiece. As Michelangelo said, when explaining how he sculpted his David, ”

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

I think back to that little boy in the plaid shirt art smock. I wonder what truth he could have reached if his smock hadn’t been destroyed. I wonder what I could have found if I hadn’t hidden from my own truth.

All of these what-ifs aside, I think about the wonder of the dreams I have uncovered as I chip away at my own Michelangelo-creation on my quest to authenticity. I am discouraged by the difficulty of it all yet inspired to find my own truth lying deep within the block of stone that is me.

I encourage you, my friends, to uncover your Truth, your own plaid-shirt dreams.
The Dragonfly’s Student


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