We Are All Vulnerable

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… to be alive is to be vulnerable.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water … 

Although I often find it difficult to acknowledge this truth, since I am alive, I am vulnerable and can be hurt–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. At a moment’s notice, I can be damaged. And if I still do not want to accept this truth, I can simply ask anyone who has gone through a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, flood, forest fire, or earthquake; or I can ask anyone who has been left by a spouse, betrayed by a trusted friend, or abandoned by a parent. For, in fact, we are all vulnerable. Yet, it is our acknowledgement of this vulnerability that allows us to push ahead in life–to see the importance of deciding which chances are truly worth taking, and then having the confidence and clarity to make those decisions.

When I was younger, I used to think that grown-ups had it all figured out. I held an innocent belief that my role models were perfect and could do nothing wrong, and most of what my adults taught me I accepted as truth with little questioning. Even my parents’ decisions seemed to be undeniably right. However, as I grew older, I realized that none of this was true–role models are human too, and no matter how perfect they seem, are sometimes prone to making bad choices; and all adults, even though they try the best they know how, still make mistakes.

By recognizing and accepting that we are vulnerable, that we are human, we can avoid things that could be damaging to us. I do not want to go through the hurt and pain of divorce… I have family and friends who have been through it and I know it is not pretty. And by accepting that I am vulnerable to this, I can protect myself from its pain and injury by avoiding it proactively and taking smart and calculated risks.

We all go through the same experiences in life–pain and suffering, grief and mourning, loss and confusion, joy and happiness, love and compassion, and ultimately death. These are part of the common bonds of humanity that link us together in susceptibility… in oneness. And throughout our lives, our vulnerability can be a friend who reminds us to be careful, even as we take risks and do things that others may not be willing to do. For with it, we are able to feel the world–the emotions, the joy and the agony, and the pleasure and the pain–and these are the things that bring life to our existence.

Take some time to reflect upon some of your recent vulnerablities.

Questions to consider:

In what ways are you most vulnerable? How do you know this?

How can you use your vulnerability to add quality and intensity to your life?

Why is it important to accept our vulnerability completely?

For further thought:

“What is involved in taking responsibility for one’s own life? It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.” ~ Morris L. West, The Shoes of the Fisherman

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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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