I often talk about the importance of building a nurturing, supportive set of relationships in our lives. This is not only our outer relationships, but also developing a compassionate relationship with our inner self. Without this supportive inner circle, our outer lives can lose vitality.
A beautiful but sad tale which reminds us of this is The Little Match Girl. It is one we all somehow know in our bones, even if we have not heard it before.
“There once was a little girl who had no mother or father, and she lived on the edge of a dark forest. Nearby was a village, and she had learned that she could buy matches there, and then re-sell the matches on the street at a small profit. If she sold enough matches, she could buy a little bread, food enough to see her through until the next day.
Winter came and it was very cold. Her clothes were threadbare and she had no shoes. Her fingers and toes were so cold they had turned almost white. She hugged her arms around herself and wandered the streets trying to sell her matches to strangers. But no-one paid her any attention.
When the evening came and a light snow was beginning to fall, she sat down in despair. She had matches, but she had no kindling and no wood to make a fire. But she decided to light the matches anyway.
She sat there in the swirling snow and struck the first match. As she did it seemed the little flame became a roaring stove which radiated blissful heat. She snuggled up to the stove and it was bliss.
But suddenly the stove went out and she found herself shivering in the street, a drifting of snow across her little feet. And so she struck a second match, and there in the light she could see a table covered with a snowy white cloth, and on the table was a feast of hot food fresh from the oven. Just as she reached for this food, she found herself back in the street, her bones aching with the cold.
And so she lit another match. And out of nowhere her grandmother appeared, with all her kindness and warmth. The grandmother wrapped her up in her shawl and held her close and the little girl felt content.
But the grandmother began to fade, so the child struck another match and another to keep the grandmother with her... and another and another. And in the morning, the child was found, frozen, still and gone, wrapped in a blanket of snow.”
This little girl lives in a place where no-one cares about her. She literally carries the creative spark in the form of her matches; the source of all creativity, and yet it is not valued. But this little girl has resigned herself to her situation. And more sadly, she has lost touch with her wise wild self who might show her all the other things she might do to live.
To avoid being the Little Match Girl, there is one major action we must take. If there are any relationships in our life which do not support our creativity, our life, then these relationships need to change. If there are people in our circle who do not wholeheartedly support us, then we need to let them go. Otherwise we find ourselves in the threadbare clothes and half0life of the Match Girl.
The Little Match Girl represents that creative part of our soul which we lose touch with when we do not nourish ourselves. When fear gets the better of us, we look at our dreams and our creative endeavours, and decide they are simply not good enough. We hide them away. We starve them of air and fuel. Our inner spark flickers and grows faint. We may resort to fantasy, losing ourself in visions of what we would like to have happen, just as the little girl squanders the last of her matches. Ultimately we may even lose touch with our inner creative spark, suffering a form of self inflicted soul loss.
What can we do to rekindle our creative spark and avoid the fate of the Little Match Girl?
The creative fire, that vital inner spark, is never truly lost. A soul retrieval may be needed to restore this essential soul part, but there are ways you can help yourself too. Paying deep attention to the essence of that which warms your heart, and bringing more of that into your life is another way to restore connection.
Creative projects, any acts of creation, need to be loved, need to be tended. Acknowledge that no-one else in this world can bring your dreams into being. Know, truly know, that you cannot fail at being yourself. Take hold of the hand of your inner little match girl and offer her the tenderness she needs. Let her know you value her. She holds the matches from which you can re-kindle the creative fire. Be her fierce protector, for she holds the key to your creative passion. She is key to restoring vitality and passion to your life.
To re-kindle your creative fire you will need to bring your inner Little Match Girl kindling and wood. What support does she need from you? You will need to use your breath to fan the flames once the first spark has taken. You will need to focus and tend to the fire as it grows. What can you do each day to express yourself creatively?
Your creativity will ultimately find expression in everything you do. Surround yourself with people who will support your endeavours, and you will find you inspire them with yours. This is the type of fire which feeds itself. For it lightens our hearts and invites us into deeper self expression.
To live a vital, impassioned life, nurture and support your inner creative self. Build a circle of nurturing, supportive relationships in your outer life. Feed your creative spark and you will build a fire which will warm you for all of your days.
If you would like to talk about anything in this article, please contact me.
Artwork by Scarlett-James, Beatrice Billard and Freydoon Rassouli.