Vulnerability


" …my Vulnerability tucked in tight around me."

To the extent that I acknowledge and accept them, I concede that my vulnerabilities might be my superpowers. They mark boundaries which I only rarely cross, so they seem to keep me safe. I also acknowledge that some of those vulnerabilities represent otherwise meaningless limitations I impose upon myself, like my steadfast refusal to drive on I-25. I can be certain that I will never die on I-25 if I steer clear of it. I can't imagine not feeling vulnerable around that road. The Muse knows that I'm afraid of many situations and that avoidance remains my go-to strategy for coping with these. I've survived so far, but not without a shrinking feeling that my world has been steadily shriveling around me.

I chalk my default strategy up to a studied humility.
I'm not big on confronting my fears with the intention of somehow overcoming them, though I sometimes go counter-phobic. I once showed up for an executive interview wearing a wizard suit, a fundamentally foolhardy act that nonetheless yielded a hefty consulting contract. I was terrified and did it anyway. I once gave a speech in my underwear after stripping down from behind the podium, though I wore the underpants over a pair of sturdy corduroy trousers, but nobody in the audience could see that detail. Counter-phobia amounts to biting the tiger first to shock the beast into leaving me alone. It always appears foolhardy and sometimes works. I usually resort to such anything-but-that tactics when I figure I have nothing to lose by employing them. They've mostly served me very well.

I think aging amplifies vulnerability. I felt vulnerable as an infant but loving parents hovered nearby. Beyond a certain age, overcoming vulnerability seems sort of silly. A career winds down after too soon peaking. The belated master of his universe melts into a master without portfolio before realizing that he's no longer a master of anything but vulnerability. He can't see quite as well as he used to and can't hear worth a damn anymore. He feels as though he might have experienced his last great insight and his once attentive audience seems to have dispersed. The clear paths into and back out of society squeeze off access and aloneness becomes the latest vulnerability. Self worth struggles for breath. Self esteem might seem irrelevant.

The shaving mirror reflects his father then and the bed pillows hardly support his head. He sleeps little and awakens less enthused. Food loses its distinctive flavors. Traveling becomes more of an inconvenience than an adventure. Purpose, distanced from family and old friends, relies more upon infrequent phone calls to reinforce itself. The world narrows into fragmented slices and what once seemed whole grows successively smaller. Aspiration separates itself from possibility. Acceptance grows ever more attractive.

What was once defined by achieving settles more and more for simply being. The world seems successively less interested in being changed. The universe expands, as I suppose it always has, leaving each individual point ever further from every other point. The whole has grown while the particular shrank, isolation becoming less like theory and more like daily practice. Learning continues, perhaps at an expanding rate, but the purpose of learning utterly shifts from accumulation into simple sustenance. It feeds without inflating. It nourishes without transforming anything anymore. The striving slows way down. Appreciation seems to speed up. Where ever I feel safe feels like home to me, my Vulnerability tucked in tight around me.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus