VULNERABILITY 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 be something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, refusing our vulnerability we refuse 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 one of the privileges and the prime conceits of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but 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.
To go into the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
Don’t we all eventually find our way here one time or another? Having lost some essential part of ourselves, we plunge into emptiness. But here’s a secret about the Great Dark: Everything is found here. Nothing is excluded or omitted. It embraces everything equally, just as it is.
I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you can see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
Growth only comes from adversity and from challenge—from stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown.
The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.
I wish we weren’t (meant for the edge, that is) but I think we are. I think Vonnegut and Saunders and Eleanor Roosevelt all got it right. And so on wobbly legs, untethered and a little afraid, I make my way forward from one precipice to the next.
You do not need to know precisely what is happening,
or exactly where it is all going.
What you need is to recognize the possibilities
and challenges offered by the present moment,
and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.
Image Courtesy of Veikko Suikkanen (Thank You!)
Coming events will affect me, however my prayer and determination are that they will not reduce me.
How wild it was, to let it be.
Sometimes the jagged shards of life cut too deep, and you realize at last that there’s nothing to be done but to be with your uncertainty. I guess I’m most surprised to find how simple life becomes when you stop turning away from it, stop trying to make the truth of it into something else.
To stay with that shakiness—
to stay with a broken heart,
with a rumbling stomach,
with the feeling of hopelessness
and wanting to get revenge—
that is the path of true awakening.
Sticking with that uncertainty,
getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos,
learning not to panic—
this is the spiritual path.
Adversity is a natural part of being human. It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regime or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep things from falling apart. Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul. We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego’s will to prevail. To listen to your soul is to stop fighting with life – to stop fighting when things fall apart; when they don’t go our way, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood. To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty and to wait.
But nothing is solid and permanent. Our lives are raised on the shakiest foundations. You don’t need to read history books to know that. You only have to know the history of your own life.
One Foot in Eden
“I told Ersken, “Lately it’s been like living on the knife’s edge, never knowing which side I’ll fall off on” Ersken clapped me on the shoulder as we stepped into the street. “Cheer up, Beka. Maybe you were going to fall off that razor’s edge before, but not today,” he said, as good humored as always. “Today we’re going to jump.”
~ Tamora Pierce
I’m letting it in. All of it. Just the way it is. And when it gets too scary, I close my eyes and focus on taking just one more breath. Then I practice being brave. Maybe that’s the best you can do when the sky is falling.
Those who have reached their arms into emptiness
are no longer concerned with lies or truth, with mind or soul,
or which side of the bed they rose.