It is that feeling that you are totally exposed. It is when you can control nothing. It is when most of us pray. This yucky little feeling goes by the name of vulnerability. Being vulnerable is an emotional state that we run from, panicked and breathing hard and heavily. Being vulnerable means pulling your heart from the safety of your chest cavity, out from behind the protective cage of ribs, and into the world without armor.
It could mean experiencing the pain of unrequited love, waiting for the tests at the physician’s office, applying for a new job, submitting a paper, reaching out for someone’s hand, speaking to another in a foreign language, or plainly just speaking to another person. Embracing vulnerability is doing all of these things and feeling peace. Not nerves, not the need to kneel and repent, not hot emotional tears. Simple, quiet, luscious, peace.
It turns out that those who embrace vulnerability are the happiest. The incredibly strong individuals that embrace such an aversive human emotion have shown to be the happiest of us all. It is not difficult to avoid feeling vulnerable, we are all equipped with the power to do so. What is difficult is avoiding the things that insecure others have created to avoid their own vulnerable state. We turn to anything to numb these feelings, when all we need to do is sit and feel.
Knowing that life will never be easy, that there will be scares and bumps along the way is an adage that we are forced to adopt, usually via a large tablespoon of tough love. While this factoid is important, it is far more critical to understand that the only progress that comes out of our lives is when we are vulnerable. I can certainly guarantee it.
It never feels good and it never gets easier, for our problems grow and mature as we do. But, we can learn that that moment when you feel like your life is in mid-air of a ludicrous jump over a gap in a rocky bridge, there is no harm, there is no fear, and that there is a solid place to land, to start anew, to bloom again.
In thinking about all of the wonderful nuances from the video “The Power of Vulnerability”, I could not help but think of the song “River” by Joni Mitchell. Her sultry voice croons “I wish I had a river that I could skate away on”. Would it not be lovely to have a fairy tale river, surrounded by crisp whites swirls of frosting-like snow, that you could, upon lacing up your ice skates and shaking the fluffy flakes off your woolen skirt, skate away from all of your problems. I suppose the real trouble, the real challenge, if you will, comes not in finding this magical river, but learning to skate in any condition.
So how can I, a meek and tender person subscribe to the power of vulnerability? How can I endure the terrible feelings that come with it? How can I be brave enough to put myself out there, to expose myself?
Why, I believe that it is just a matter of trying and believing whole-heartedly. In anything. In everything.