Once, somewhere far away, an itinerant healer cured a boy of his ennui.
“What a fool I was to have forgotten myself!” The youth exclaimed.
“Forgotten your self?” The old healer laughed. “My child, you did not forget your self, nor have you found your self again now; you forgot the art of engaging with music and poetry; you forgot to build comfort into your life to enable quiet, whole-hearted exploration and, forever craving the ease you lacked, dulled your pain with consumption; you forgot your true friends and hid from their joy amongst the activities of lesser men; you did all of these things and more, but never did you forget your self — in fact, you were burrowed quite deep within your self when I found you. You were pinching at healthy body fat and tugging at your hair enough to make it fall out; you asked about incessantly for a glimmer of your worth and standing, obsessive in unfolding and creasing, over and over again, the infinitely-mirrored image that makes up a self; forgetting your pleasures and ecstasies; forgetting experience so completely that your self — hopelessly recursive by the time we met — was the only thing you could remember at all, and you called it the world, and were weary of it. Now you claim you’ve found your self again at last, but I would say, rather, that you have finally lost your self and discovered your joy.”
“Oh,” said the boy. After a long pause he groaned, “How could I have let this happen?”
“What has happened?”
“I feel as if I have wasted so much time on nothing, when now I see clearly that I should have been creating and discovering joy.”
“I would not think your time was wasted, for while you watched the ego’s nothingness through your jaded kaleidoscope, what marvelously fractured vision you possessed! I can only imagine the things you might have glimpsed at the confluence of your inwardly focused prisms — could you not make those visions into objects of your own joy and the joy of others?”
“Are you suggesting that I must now love my self (which you say I’ve lost) despite being aware of its illusory nature?”
“No, child, I am suggesting that you make your self into joy.”