He is the band aid in getting over you.

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He was a band aid over a gaping wound.
But the problem about wounds isn’t about keeping them in the dark. It’s about letting the light in.
It’s about letting the air flow through the bloodied pieces to sew them back together.
A band aid only works so well for so long. It only holds the pieces together until the blood soaks through. Until the outside world works away the adhesive until the darn thing all but falls off.
That’s what he was. He was a shining soul holding the darkness in, saving my wounded heart from feeling the air that would cause it to heal.
And he did it so beautifully.
But in his presence the wound stayed open, because in his absence I realized just how healed I wasn’t.
In his absence I realized how much I had latched onto the feeling of having someone who covered that wound so perfectly.


I’m not over him. Anything that makes a person feel such violent emotion is not something they are simply over. It’s not something that’s gone away, that you smile at in fondness of the good memories.
No, it’s something that still hurts you every time you think about it. Something that makes you wonder how you could have been so blind, so stupid.
The pain feels like a knife, stabbing past the band aid, ripping the wound deeper, as I lay awake wondering how I let it get so wrong.
I don’t know how to rip the band aid off, the one holding back his memory.
I don’t know how to let go.
I shouldn’t have to drink my body weight in alcohol to feel okay. I shouldn’t have to numb the pain of you, and you shouldn’t have the numb the pain of him.
Today I head to the south, where the birds chirp and the stars shine, and everything else comes easily. Where you will be, hopefully, a distant memory as I tune out.
I want to keep you as a band aid, but the more I understand the logistics behind healing, the more ready I am for the open air.

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In order to heal, first you must feel.

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I stood outside under the clouds, a camera in my hands, and prayed for stars. It was a moment of clarity, as my eyes adjusted to the silence of the night.
I wasn’t sure what the universe had in store for me. Lately, it seems, she has been throwing continuous curve balls that hit me square in the face, leaving me flat on my ass, ready to stand up again, with no less enthusiasm than the moment before.
And it was in that moment when I realized, that despite the challenges and the bruises from these ever constant surprises, I was grateful.
I was grateful for my parents, who have supported me and sat back, letting me live my life but stepping in when the weight was too much.
I was grateful for my best friend, who was the first to fully accept me, and all my magnificent flaws, and who showed me what true friendship was, and is.
And I was grateful for everyone else too, those who had come in, and out, of my life. Staying for a few weeks, or staying for a few years, each of them had taught me another lesson in self love.
I stood underneath the dark prairie sky, praying for stars, but grateful for the clouds, and as I took deep breathes of crisp November air, I noticed the exact thing I had been hoping for.
A tiny patch of stars, above my head, peaking through for the camera I held at the ready.
Constellations surrounded by thick cloud, shining through to grace my little piece of world with their light.
And I accepted the message they brought with; the message that in the gloomy nights the universe was still present.
She’s just shrouded in cloud, holding her breath until you step back and look for the light. Even if you can’t see it, she waits for you to know it is there.
Because she sees the strength in you, because she put you on this path, under that patch of stars, to understand just something a little bit more about yourself.

But why is there so much doubt?

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I stare at the mountains and she takes my photo. It’s a pretty good friendship. @brittrose.ca

Sometimes you doubt. You doubt everything.
You doubt if you are on the right path. You doubt if you’ve done the right thing.
You even doubt your whole existence.

And it’s not fair.
It’s not fair to have good days that lift you up so high you feel like the eagles you watch with envy – only to crash back down in a flurry of wind and feathers as the currents suddenly become too much for you.

But life isn’t fair. That much has been true of almost every human-being on this planet.

We all want what we can’t have; a selfish breed of individual
fighting tooth and nail to tread water.

Not fair, no – but it is what you make it.
It is something you can control, in some form, to lead a healthy existence where you only suffer in minor ways.

Our brains and our hearts are not always our best friends,
but our souls do know the true path, and they whisper in our ears,
guiding us even when we refuse to listen.

So, why then, the doubt?
Why, if your ears are attuned, do you still ignore the teachings of the universe?
Why do you sit with white knuckles on a park bench, wondering “why me?”

You wonder why you aren’t perfect.
You sit and curse a higher power because you aren’t blessed.
You close your eyes on everything you have and forget that you are where you need to be.

That every left fork you have taken has been your choice, and anything different would have led you to a different you, a different Monday night, with a different group of people, in a different city.

And remember that. You are here, in this moment, on this Monday, with this group of people. Open your eyes to the wonders that surround this path — the path you have come to wander.

Because full of doubt, or free from all worry, this is the path you chose.
The path filled with doubts in the world,
but also filled with love, and acceptance, and happiness.

The path that feels like home, even when the mind refuses to sleep.

Every small moment.

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I grasp at straws for fleeting moments of happiness.
And they last, so much longer.
I still find people hard. Even my closest friends. I shut down. I turn off. I go home.
I used to stay, to have those deep conversations on couches in the basement.
I don’t anymore. I avoid those talks. Because those talks ask for emotion I don’t want to give. Emotion I bottle up and only show to myself in the bathroom mirror.
I just force back the alcohol that I don’t even like and hope the happy takes over before the emotion can show.
I used to be open. But then I slammed the doors and nailed them shut.
The nails are out of the boards now and they fall to the ground.
But the doors are still locked, still closed, and my emotions are held tight for a little bit longer.
I don’t want to let them out. I was told they were damaging and exaggerated.
They were used against me.
The thing I loved most about myself, my passion, was shoved down into a tiny bottle and hid in a dark corner to collect dust.
And so I leave the party. I pull the covers up over my head and hope for peace.
I’m angry. I’m tired. I just want to be free.
I’m not opposed to being free. I just think the bird trapped in the cage has forgotten how to fly.
But I do still grasp at those straws. I say no to that final drink. I stay those thirty minutes more for a fleeting moment of happiness in something so simple as a conversation.
I still don’t admit I’m not okay, not to anyone but myself, but I hold onto the feeling of the love I used to radiate, to the emotion that used to spill out of me in waves, and I know these small moments; maybe if I ball them up into one, maybe they will be just enough.

For the love of a dog.

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β€œI think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”

— Gilda Radner —


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It’s in her silky fur, glistening in the fresh rain.
It’s in the pink scar on her nose, there since birth.
It’s in the way she bares her teeth in play, gaining her the nickname of shark.
It’s in the way she gives me attitude when I ask her to obey.

Undying love, in the form of a dog,
is something every person should experience.
Nothing makes me happier than coming home to her face.
Excitement,
every time I open the bedroom door.

Her soft snores;
the only sound in the dead of night.
Her droopy eyes stare at me
as I wake her from a night terror.
I pat the pillow beside me,
and suddenly my vision is filled.
White and black whiskers,
snuffles,
the one or two licks.

We will sleep like this,
before she will move on.
She will curl at my feet,
beside a cat,
and they will sleep.
She guards over me,
asleep, but alert to all the night sounds.
With her I will never be harmed.

She taught me to fight my demons,
and the battle still rages.
She knows,
and she is patient.
She sees me fighting,
but she knows that I’m close to winning.
And she will wait until I do.

She sleeps beside me now,
curled up on the floor.
She’ll stay there until the cool air reaches her.
But eventually she will join me,
curled up at the end of the bed.
She will resume her snoring,
and her feet will begin to twitch,
and I will remember all we’ve gone through.

From six weeks I’ve loved her,
and will until the day she dies.
Even though I slip and I yell,
every day she teaches me something new.
And every day I am happy,
because I have her to come home to.

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Forever learning from the place we call home.

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I don’t know how to describe my experience at Shambhala. It was amazing. Of course it was. It always is. But it was also lonely. Even surrounded by the most loving people on our planet, I still felt like an alien in the sea of faces.

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Photo Credit – Gillian Baines

Everyone builds up this amazing memory of Shambhala, myself included, and I guess I feel a bit stuck when I think honestly about the memory. I wrote about my very first experience at this magical place, four years ago, when the lights were new and the feelings were something I had never experienced before. The two years following I didn’t know how to write about it, disappointed that I wasn’t 100 per cent satisfied with the weekend spent in the BC wilderness.
I guess I thought that if I didn’t force myself into believing I had the best time then I wasn’t truly living in the moment. But as the years have passed, and I’ve spent my time travelling the dusty dirt road and dancing my soul out beneath the trees, I understand that Shambhala is what you make of it.

I will never deny the intense moments of happiness as I moved from stage to stage, witnessing euphoria in it’s simplest form. The joy radiated from almost every person I had the pleasure of passing, and the words shouted and sang and spoke were true and pure and humbling. But I also will not deny the intense singularity I felt as I spent most of that time wandering by myself, making friends as I went that will remain farmily but who’s names have long since passed from my mind.
This year I went alone. I had a few groups of friends camped sporadically throughout Metta, but I was all by my lonesome, way out in crew camping. The challenge was different; I had always camped close. I had always camped with a group. This year I was camped as far away as possible, in the quietest part of the farm.

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My view from the Press Tent. ❀

Β  Β  I loved the job I did for the festival this year, and working alongside the media in the Press Tent was one of the most rewarding things that has happened to me at Shambhala. Seeing my favourite artists getting off the airport shuttles, seeing them walking to and from the stages, and just simply being in the hub of activity is something I would never change. My heart is so full from being able to help out even in the smallest of ways.
Yet, even with all this purity and satisfaction, and even surrounded by thousands of new friends, there will always be the part of me who missed my closest pals, the ones who were not able to make it.
I love Shambhala. I love the lessons I learn every single year that push me forward and help me bring so much more of that love into my every-day life. I love the chaos and the magic, and the stories that flood my newsfeed for months to come.
But now, after four years, I also appreciate that it’s not always going to be amazing. There are going to be moments where you are sad, or lonely, or just downright angry. And that is okay.
It is okay to admit there were things that hurt you, or frustrated you.

I’ve been home for five days, and everything in me wants to pack up my car and drive right back, down the windy mountain roads through the clouds of smoke. Even knowing of the frustrations faced, there is nothing I would trade for the weekend spent feeling the bass in every part of my body.
I met a few people this year who’s whole lives came crumbling down the minute they got to the festival, from broken hearts to theft, and everything else in between. They had far worse events overtake them, and yet they were still doing what they could, being who they were, and giving the love they had in them to everyone out there who would take it.
And that is what Shambhala is about.
It’s not about having the perfect weekend, because let’s face it, simply being “human” makes us less than perfect. It’s not about being happy from the minute you get in line to the minute you pack up your camp and leave.
But it is about love. Encompassing, empowering, love. It is about feeling lonely but still having the most wonderful time because all you have to do is look at the first person in your line of sight to feel. And it is about feeling; feeling every emotion known to man, because that is what something so powerful as this festival does. It makes you feel. And personally, if I didn’t feel sadness and solitariness, all the other more positive emotions wouldn’t have hit me in the same way.
I wouldn’t have appreciated the festival in the same way, because it makes me understand that even in the happiest place on Earth, things still happen that bring us down.
It’s a lesson I’ve been struggling with in the day’s I’ve been home, because let’s face it, the real world is not the happiest place on Earth, and the negative feelings stick around just a little bit longer, because not every face looking back at you is smiling.
But the strength I’ve gained — the appreciation I have gained — for love, and acceptance, and just for our human souls in general, is something I attribute to Shambhala, to the years of experience of gracefully struggling my way through the weekend.
I’ve come to learn you don’t have to be ashamed, because Shambhala has got you, in all your absent, worried, euphoric glory. Shambhala, and every spirit who attends, will gladly wrap you in their arms and let the love flow, even after the grounds have returned to a cattle ranch, even after the snow starts to fall.

At the end of the day, the mountains in your review mirror, having had the best time, the worst time, or a time that was perfect for what it was in the moment it was in, every lesson learned makes us stronger. And as we return to the things that can frequently bring us down, just remember that having emerged out of the flames creates a courage, similar to that of a phoenix, and even hundreds, thousands, of miles away from the place we call home, we’ve still got this. And we will have this. And just in case you forget, Shambhala will be there, always in the back of your mind, to welcome us home in 365 short days.

— cassie —