Chinese Idiom Stories
Official Jiang Uses Up His Talent
Jiang Yan lived during the Liang dynasty of the Northern and Southern Dynasties Period, in the area now known as Henan province. Although he came from a poor family, he as extremely hard working, and so became a high-level civil official. Jiang Yan was very talented in the area of literature. Both his poems and his essays were outstanding, and he was known by nearly all the scholars of his time.
Jiang Yan once had a dream that a man came to him and said, "My name is Guo Pu. One of my pens has been here with your for several years; please give it back to me now." In his pocket, Jiang Yan found a multi-colored pen, which he returned to Guo Po.
As Jiang Yan grew older, the poems and essays that he wrote were not as good as those he had written when he was younger. Everyone said that when Jiang Yan gave away his multi-colored pen, he used up the last of his talent.
When a person today is so satisfied with himself that he ceases striving to improve, and therefore beings to regress, we can say that "Official Jiang has used up his talent."