Invite Your Spirit Out to Play

I have been around animals my entire life. In fact, I can never remember a time when I was not surrounded by them. Even as a child, neighborhood dogs would find me and hang out at my house. They came in all shapes and sizes and loaded with personality. I communicated with animals as easily as I did people. What I found most amazing was their resilient spirit and lack of ego. I think I liked that part best — they were not at all pretentious. They didn’t cloak their feelings like people did. They didn’t hide behind smiles and false words, hoping no one would notice how they truly felt. Animals are transparent about how they feel; they let their emotions show. They show us who they really are.

Alex, the lab in the photo, came to me fully grown and loaded with issues. I knew when I adopted him that he was incredibly smart, handsome and had a beautiful spirit. What I didn’t know at the time was that he had dark emotions — ones that would erupt in the most frightening ways. Whatever his past life had been, it had left its mark on his spirit. For years, he slept with one eye open, always on guard. Over time, though, and with a great amount of courage on his part, Alex worked through his explosive anger, his reactive nature and his extreme fear of being cornered. He made the decision to heal by letting go of his past and his story along with it. Eventually, he transformed into a joyful, fun-loving boy who loved to play. And once his spirit came out to play, it stayed for good.

Mikey and Alex (right), Best Friends

Mikey and Alex (right), Best Friends

I think one of the greatest gifts Alex offered was just that — his joyful, childlike spirit that served to lighten moods, reminding us to not take ourselves so seriously. He did not sleep-walk through life; instead, he made the most of every moment he lived here. Perhaps that is because he had seen the darker side of life and knew how precious joy really is. Whether patrolling the property with his friend, Mikey, playing frisbee with me, or sniffing out a snapping turtle, he always seemed grateful to have discovered his true spirit.

We all have bumps and bruises from living; we even get knocked down pretty hard and carry the weight of those experiences. But what if we let go of our stories, the ones that weigh us down? What if we have the courage to come out of hiding and show the world who we really are? What if we give ourselves the chance to live our spirits out loud? Maybe then our spirits would finally have room to breathe.

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