Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On Vulnerability

Vulnerable:  susceptible to emotional injury; open to censure or criticism.  My new 'V' word of the moment.

On Dec. 12th, someone smashed the window of my car and took my reflexology bag, along with my iPod dock.  On Dec. 14th, the shootings in Newtown happened.  On Dec. 19th, a very nice man named Val crashed his truck into my car, while he was being waved across two lanes of traffic (the insurance agent referred to it as 'the wave of death').  

What do these events have in common?  They all brought a feeling of extreme vulnerability up front and center in me.  Suddenly, I was walking around feeling like an eggshell; like anything could just happen to me at any moment, whether I wanted it to or not.  I hadn't felt like that since I lost my house in a tornado.  I knew that this feeling would pass -- because it's always true that anything can happen in any moment, but we really can't walk around thinking this constantly or we'd be paralyzed with fear all the time!  Still, I didn't want the feeling to 'just pass' -- I wanted to somehow let these things be meaningful in my life, and not just be 'bad events'.  

The point became not WHAT HAPPENED, but -- what am I going to DO with what happened?  We define events as 'bad' simply because something happened that we did NOT want to happen -- yet we still have a choice about how we handle it all.

The car stuff was easy.  Everything was covered by insurance.  I realized that I really didn't like my iPod dock all that much, and would be happy to have a reason to pick out a new one.  Val, the man who crashed into me, was incredibly nice, assumed total liability, and all I had to do was drop off my car at the auto body shop and pick up the rental car.  I called him and thanked him for being so gracious about it, and told him that it was 'almost nice to meet him'. I had as much fun as I could with the police, insurance agents, and car repair people.  It was almost an enjoyable experience.

As for the shooting of little children and adults in Newtown -- what can we all do with that?  Obviously, it's something that no one would ever, ever wish for.  No one would ever say, "yes, it's okay that that happened".  Still, we have a choice.  How will we let it change us?  How will we let it affect our thoughts, words and actions?  Since we can't undo it -- how will we let it be meaningful in our lives?  How will we let it make us better people?

Making ourselves vulnerable -- to hurt, to failure, to rejection, to injury -- also means being our most authentic selves.  Our most imperfect, genuine, delicate, courageous, wonderful selves.  This is one of the reasons that the events in Newtown stir us so deeply -- children are the most vulnerable of us -- and also, by far, the most authentically themselves.  

Please ask yourself now -- what risks have you not taken because you were afraid of failure, of rejection, of being vulnerable?  And if you took those risks -- how might others be affected?  How might the world be a better place?  How might your vulnerability and courage enrich the lives of others in ways that you can't even imagine?  Let's take this opportunity, this gift, into our hearts, let ourselves be more vulnerable, more authentic -- and not be left wondering what life might have been like if we'd only had the courage to show up and let ourselves be seen.

Happy, happy, happy New Year.  It's going to be AMAZING.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, MJ! Wonderful words. We got hit by a deer traveling between Christmas and New Year's, deer walked away, we drove away, very grateful, but then found myself hyper-scanning the road for the next 100 miles, anxious about another deer, the next unexpected thing, as if constant vigilance will make the world safe...Didn't work for Mad Eye Moody, either!

    Thanks for the gift of this post!