is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to
do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever
present and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from
vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be
invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most
especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More
seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse to ask for the help needed at
every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and
conversational foundations of our identity.
To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and
circumstances, is a lovely illusory privilege and perhaps the prime beautifully
constructed conceit of being human and most especially of being youthfully
human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth,
with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share
our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up,
as we approach our last breath.
The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability,
how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate
through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability
as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and
complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but
never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk
ourselves, never walking fully through the door.
©2015 David Whyte
‘VULNERABILITY’ From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
MANY RIVERS PRESS
Poetry usually scares me as it's not an art form I've spent much time studying or learning about. I wish that wasn't true, but it is. I saw this poem this morning though and just had to share it. In it, there is so much to love. Especially, I love the part about how running from vulnerability is an attempt to become something we are not. Inherently, we need one another. We just do. Sometimes need--asking for help--is a bitter pill to swallow. But that's only true in our minds and before we ask. Afterwards, after we let down our guard (some might say, after we remove our shield), we experience the "mobilized essential foundation of our identity."
My family has needed a lot of help over the last several years of our healing journey. At first, when I was a grain of salt in an ocean of pain, I wickedly despised this truth. It made me feel stupid and weak. Oh how wrong I was. Today, I believe that embracing vulnerability is one of if not the greatest lesson I learned during our journey. Vulnerability is not a choice. I look forward now to continue down the path of vulnerability to greater compassion, courage, and intimacy.
Thank you for being part of my journey. Let's walk through the door together.