Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Shai Smith.
“You do not need to work to become spiritual. You are spiritual; you need only to remember that fact. Spirit is within you.”
~ Julia Cameron
I haven’t always been that annoyingly happy girl full of bubbles, sunshine, and rainbows but, sometime in the last decade or so, after lots of self-help and audio books, that was me. I had friends who actually avoided me when they were depressed because they ‘couldn’t take’ that much happiness. I had half a dozen friends who called me a ‘ray of sunshine’ and turned to me when they needed to smile. I’m a fixer – I fix things, people, and situations, and bring positive to every situation. That’s just…who I’ve become.
So, when I set out to chase my dreams and attend peace leadership training with 19 strangers on the other side of the continent, my other half said ‘This is going to change you, Shai’. And, I knew it would. That was the point, right – to go to California and become the peace leader I knew I wanted to be?
What I didn’t expect was to come back broken.
At the training, I stayed in a retreat center for 7 days with a group of people with whom I really, truly connected. I absorbed the training information like a sponge and learned things about our human race that I never thought to even consider. I formed a handful of incredible bonds so strong that I’ve now flown another 3,600 miles to spend a weekend with them. I experienced a real connection with the spirit and heart of another human being and, apparently, that was something which I had never experienced.
I discovered the unseeable depths of compassion and acceptance – for others, and by others of myself.
I realized that bubbly, peppy Shai is actually an introvert who puts on a happy, outgoing face to bring smiles to the faces of others.
And, both when I came home from California and when I came back from the second trip, I spent days in tears. I spent weeks inside myself, trying to figure out why I felt so comfortable in my own skin there, and so lost here. My spirit was broken. Is broken.
As it turns out, a dear friend of mine is going through something very similar after spending some time overseas in a Buddhist monastery this summer. And, upon talking to her, I realized that my spirit isn’t broken. What I had, in the beginning, wasn’t actually spirit at all – it was just a sort of shell of what could be, and a mask that I wore that made life easy. In California, and again in Maine…
I discovered pieces of my spirit.
I was allowed to be 100% me, and accepted for every little quirk and piece of personal history which previously seemed to tarnish the shine to which I was so attached.
So, every day, I wake up and cry – sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively – over losing the Shai that was. Then I move on to discovering the real creative, somewhat introverted spirit that lies within me.
And, with every step, I feel a little more real.
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