On Being Vulnerable

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A friend who lives close to me came by tonight and dropped off a couple of rakes she offered to loan me, rather than me buy one. I was going to buy one today because I need to rake up the back yard, from stuff that’s fallen from the huge tree, which someone told me is a banyan tree, though I’m still not sure it is, and from the palm tree that is entwined with it. I want to get the yard cleaned up, and put down crushed shells back there. It’s supposed to cool off later this week, so it will be a good time to do it. She offered to loan me her rakes rather than me buy one.

I invited her to eat with me, and watch the Voice. She’s the friend who sings, really sings, so I thought she might enjoy it. She doesn’t have TV. We had about an hour to kill til the show was on, and I’d told her about Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability, so we watched it. She loved it…she already understood it, but loved it anyway. It’s probably the 20th time I’ve watched it. It has almost 27,000,000 (yes 27 million) hits now. Literally.

But I thought about how while I espouse vulnerability all the time, I still don’t make myself completely vulnerable. While I am fully willing to be the first to say “I love you” with no guarantee the feeling will be reciprocated, and while I’m fully willing to invest in a relationship with no guarantee it will work out. I was fully willing to move to a town where I knew 1 person, and willing to do what I had to do to create a new life here. I thought I was fully willing too, to show up, to be seen, and to risk failure, because after all, I write a blog. I pour my heart out here, I have few things that I won’t discuss here.

Then I look at my friend, who sings her heart out. I look at the others who go to open mic and sing because they love it, and aren’t afraid of the failure. Of the people who are willing to sit in front of a crowd and read their poetry, and risk that maybe people will not like it, or worse, criticize it.

Those people are really espousing vulnerability. Their lives are alive, and full of joy, and they get off the stage and they collaborate on playing music together, or putting together other venues, or asking people to come hear them read their poetry.

I’m not that willing. I am terrified to get up in front of people and read my poetry. I am even terrified when my friend gets up and sings it. I can’t, yet. It terrifies me to my soul. I easily allowed myself to fall in love with someone and completely gave my heart to him, with no guarantees. Yet, I cannot get up in front of a crowd and read a poem I’ve written.

What’s up with that?

I think if I’m going to walk that walk, and talk that talk, I have some work to do. Allowing my friend to sing the poems was a start, I suppose.

I think it may align with Marianne Williamson’s famous quote, that our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. Who am I to write a good poem, that people like? What if I can actually write? What if….does that then put expectations on me that I’m afraid I can’t meet and that then I’ll disappoint them? And then disappoint myself?

Brother. This shit gets deep.

Every time I have watched that TED talk, I have learned something else. I always take another step, begin to excavate another level.  As Brene says, “Lean into the discomfort.”

Well, here’s to some productive digging.

Love and light, all.