The Golden Buddha

Near a small village in Thailand, there was a statue of a giant Buddha. It wasn't a particularly beautiful statue. It was made of thatch and mud, and was much beloved by the villagers. One day, there was an earthquake and some pieces fell off of the statue. A monk, curious to see how the statue had withstood the earthquake, began to flake off pieces so he could look inside.

What he discovered was that the Buddha was made of solid gold. It was later surmised that it had been covered with mud to keep it safe from people who might want to steal it and melt it down.
As very young children, we are pure gold the essence of hope and possibility. Then life starts to happen. The expectations and judgements of social, educational and religious institutions, parents, family and co-workers create feelings of fear and inadequacy, and in an attempt to keep ourselves safe from being "stolen" we start to apply the mud. Out of a fear that our gold, our true, essential self will be taken from us.
I have a fear of getting old. I have covered myself with mud and hair color and a reluctance to say my age out loud, or use senior discounts, in an attempt to hide the creeping patina. Our western youth culture does not respect older people. We have for the most part not been raised to honor their wisdom and value. Being old means being disposable, being a burden, being something to be hidden away. Who wouldn't be afraid of that? And yet, by being afraid we keep our true selves, our golden selves, from shining through. A study of people at the end of life showed that the one regret most often expressed was that they felt they had not lived true to themselves. They had gotten comfortable with the mud.
Flaking off the mud takes awareness, acknowledgement, and the courage to begin the process of uncovering the gold. Of understanding that, after all, it cannot be stolen, only given away. Of seeing the story that is keeping you in fear. (By the way, the paragraph above is my “story” - and I'm no longer sticking to it). Of not fearing the true power being revealed. It doesn't matter at what age the process starts, and it probably won't end until you do. A great deal of self-compassion is required, and a willingness to accept the changes that will occur and the ripples they will create. And yet the gold that is uncovered, bringing you back to your true, essential self, is the ultimate journey. .