Our Gathered Soul

The soul is a fascinating thing. Some people want to save it, some hope to protect it, and many aim to preserve it. Ultimately, the soul is something that we’ll never actually see, and continues to be a mystery in both make and model. This weekend, and in the midst of a powerful leadership camp-like experience, I had the privilege of working with a student who revealed to me her philosophy on the human soul. This particular student’s belief is that when each of us our born, our soul is divided up into millions of little pieces, all to be gathered over the course of our life.

Meeting new people, traveling, losing and loving, break ups, television shows, family, strangers, movies that make us ugly cry, learning new knowledge about ourselves or others, the past, the future, etc., the list goes on and on – these moments all possess little pieces of our soul, and during and following these moments, we gather that missing piece and add it to our already acquired bunch. Deep, right? Yes. And powerful.

This is, by far, one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments I have had in a long time, and has been resonating with me since the initial conversation. I buy into this philosophy so very much, and am still in a state of mind-explosion over discovering how much this connects to my life and the future I see for myself.

Though I have no clue what the soul is exactly (or who, or why, or when, for that matter…how, too, I guess), I do believe it assists in shaping who we are and who we are meant to be. Let’s take *Simon, for example (*The name Simon is used in place of my former classmate’s real name). When I was in elementary school, Simon was one of my classmates from Kindergarten through 6th grade. We were two of around five students who stayed at our school, and without moving from military base to military base. Simon had severe learning disabilities, and was never fully present in class or the social experiences involved in elementary school. Because of this, many made it their mission to pick on and tease Simon. Knowing I, too, was a bit “different,” I made it my mission to make Simon feel like he belonged. I constantly stood up for Simon over the course of our time in elementary school, and tried to include and involve Simon in most aspects of life. Courage, friendship, and acceptance were all part of this growth.

A few years ago I was organizing some boxes of the old stuff still at my parent’s house (I’m a packrat, y’all, it’s bad), and I came across some yearbooks from elementary school. As I was flipping through one from my younger years, I saw a note from Simon, which said the following:

“Michael, thank you for being my best friend.

Love, Simon”

For some reason, I never noticed or remembered that gesture, and it hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it. To this day, I have no clue where Simon is, nor how he is doing, however I always hope that the moments in which we were able to connect were impacting for him in some capacity. Going to school with Simon was something that helped me fully understand the reality that people matter. It’s often the smallest gestures that can make the biggest impact(s). Thus, soul particles gathered. Many soul particles gathered.

Simon aside, people are a big part of how we gather our soul. Again, people matter, and experiences with others are are gold. I had a mentor tell me a few years ago that saying, “Yes,” is essential, and that there was true benefit from gathering as many opportunities, experiences, and environments as possible. I think this might be why I love my SUV so much. Knowing that he (Huck) has been with me all over the United States, in times where I have sobbed, in times where I have endured some “coming of age moments,” and even in times where I have weathered both physical and emotional barriers, my vehicle holds (held) many pieces of my soul. Furthermore, I’m sure my car would also tell you that some of the musical moments I have had in that enclosure were some of the most soulful (no…well, yes, pun intended) to date. Let’s actually take soul music, for example. I think the reason this type of music is so impacting and “deep” (in whatever form, ‘deep,’ means for each of us) is because of the life moments and depths those who engage have been through. You have to go through some shit to dig up some shit, right? Soul particles.

People often tell me that I have had too many different life experiences for someone my age (to which I respond, No, I’ve just lived many lives), however I think it’s more so that I have an old soul. I have moved, lived, taken it all in, experimented, and continue to push myself for more. And going back to my student’s phenomenal and progressive way of thinking mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am and have been collecting those perfectly-me pieces of my soul. I am becoming more and more myself, and love every second of that. So, what does all this mean for me (you, us) today, Michael, you might be wondering?

I am just coming back from seven days of being at a powerful leadership retreat where students were pushed to explore their life-visions, and also who they are at their core. This has me thinking of both them and myself, and what exactly I need in continuing to inspire myself and others. Whether you’re an, “old soul,” “good soul,” or “lost soul,” it’s time to open doors, release windows, dig deeper, and dream big. You owe it to yourself, and moreover, you owe it to those little pieces of your soul that are waiting on you to seek and conquer. So, what are you waiting for?

Gathering,

Michael

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