Vulnerability as an Act of Defiance

I had a really great conversation with one of my blog readers who has grown to be quite a good friend this morning. Our conversations are usually long, deep, intellectual but today I felt especially inspired by it and had one of those ah-ha moments.

What’s interesting is that in the past few days, I’ve had several conversations with various people on the subject of vulnerability. This common thread sort of relates to my theory about how wisdom and life are journeys traveled in circles, always leading you home or to your center. This sudden display of commonality across unrelated conversations and people leads me to think that there is more at play than what’s on the surface here and perhaps a lesson to be honed from it.

While speaking to my friend this morning about opening yourself up to allow new opportunities and new people to come into your life, we started talking about Dylan Rodriguez, (author of Suspended Apocalypse: White Supremacy, Genocide, and the Filipino Condition, whose book he had mentioned before and who he had gone to watch speak on this issue recently) and how he spoke of emotional vulnerability as an act of political revolution and how only in being vulnerable do you allow yourself to not only connect with others but to connect in a way that is not superficial, which creates true and powerful bonds with people. Vulnerability as an act of courage. Power in taking control of your own relationships and connections with people as opposed to letting history, the norm, and society define what they should be or how they should be so that it becomes a weapon of rebellion against the power structures that attempt to define our lives and oppress us.

What blew me away was that we, society, tend to view being vulnerable in such a negative context. So many of us are so scared to attempt something new,  to open ourselves up to taking risks, for fear of failure or being hurt, or just the plain insecurity of not knowing, not having control of the situation yet we complain about being bored or alone in life and lonely, or stuck in a rut without being willing to travel beyond or above our comfort zones and unhappy because we want to have it all.

In relation to the web and social media, I find it ironic that now more than ever we are ‘connected’ in ways we have never been before. It’s all about being social, we are social beings. Sharing makes us more social, no? All sorts of data is accessible instantly, in real time, allowing us to ‘know’ people, their lives, facts or ideas, and have access to them in ways we never even imagined ten years ago, never mind before at all but how profound and meaningful are these connections really?

You might read my blog every day but you still only get a nugget of who I am as a whole person although I write about all sorts of elements of my life here and have for years. It’s still slightly skewed. There are things and subjects I’ve never even attempted to expose here and I probably never will. You might read my poetry and get a sense of where my thoughts were at that particular moment or phase of my life. But have I really bared my whole soul to you? You could read my tweets or follow me about town on foursquare or a dozen other places I am making myself accessible online but…and here’s the big but…does that mean you truly know me? That our bond is solid? How much of myself have I truly offered to you or given? How big is the risk I have taken? How much do we cushion ourselves lest we fall or fail?

As artists: writers, painters, musicians, photographers, chefs, etc., we create, we dig down deep and draw from our wells of inspiration, experiences, and even random thoughts, and we create, and then we share it with the whole world. It is both an intimate act and one of public exposure. We are both open and baring it all while yet lacking the intimacy to create a real bonding relationship.

Those take work and like the saying goes you have to ready, willing, and able. Willing to initiate it, willing to see it through, come what may. You have to refuse to let fear be used against you. You have to be strong in  your own vulnerability, something usually viewed as weak. You have to find courage in your own humanity, your own frailty, your own human needs to bond, love, connect, risk, grow, be intimate…be vulnerable.


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