On Being Vulnerable

by Simon Goland, March 14, 2012

Today’s Reflection is about that which we often don’t want to talk about.

Yes. Being vulnerable. Raise your hand if this is a “hobby” of yours. I wonder how many hands went up. I don’t think mine did.

Vulnerability. Sharing that which we are committed to protecting and hiding from the world. The fear of disclosure, the anxiety of “what will they think,” the awareness and mindfulness it takes to look deeply into one’s heart and see what’s been hidden there (perhaps for many years), the courage it takes to bring it into light. Courage is, by the way, a necessary ingredient; comes from the French cour, meaning heart.

“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.” – Ruth Renkel

The current relationship I am in, with Alison, provides me with ample opportunities to learn and practice my own vulnerability. Alison is like that, and vulnerability is way more than a hobby for her. More like a way of life, and it shows up everywhere with her. Her blog is but one example. Being with her is both a challenge and a tremendous gift, which I am learning to accept and embrace. Not always easy, yet always rich, juicy, alive, and vibrant.

There is a Right Livelihood Quest going on right now, with 16 participants from diverse geographical areas and walks of life. We have entered week 3, and the next week will be the culmination, with a 3.5 day retreat at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island. 4 weeks of a transformational journey. During these weeks, until we meet face-to-face, participants started engaging online, introducing themselves, and sharing stories and experiences. And I am completely amazed, touched, and inspired by the vulnerability and openness of people who have never yet met – and how they bring themselves forward. Openly. Authentically. In a deeply vulnerable way.

“How did I get so lucky to have my heart awakened to others and their suffering?” – Pema Chodron

Vulnerability can show up in so many different and unexpected ways. It can take a moment. An emotion. A glance into someone’s eyes. Or into one’s own heart and what is hiding there, behind the visible. Taking a moment to notice, to acknowledge, to touch gently. Keep the hand open and invite it in. And then bring it out, sharing it with someone else. Perhaps this is what the secret is, if there ever was one. It needs to be shared. After all, we co-exist. We come together. We listen to one another. We sit and share. We journey together. We love together. And we also be vulnerable together.

“For all of us. May we not be separated.” – Margaret Wheatley