Embracing True Vulnerability

There is a place in yourself that exists only as yawning uncertainty.  You know where it is, even if you haven’t been there.  It’s guarded by fear, layer upon quivering layer of icy reluctance.  When benign, the fear manifests subtly–apathy, distraction, intoxication, anything delivering a dopamine dump.  Otherwise, the fear is malignant, a gnashing tumor, psychic gridlock–engine red-lined with the parking break on.  The body freezes, the mind slows–evolutionary chemicals surge and numb, tongue blunts; nearly useless.  Everything is narrow and scary and one sided because the projections of unheeded energy stole the show.   It’s the place you’ve been running from your whole life, perhaps especially if you’ve tasted of the sour fruit at some unfortunate moment in the past. 

The fear obscures vulnerability; as far as I can tell, a synonym for not-knowing.  To be vulnerable is to acknowledge ignorance, the inherent condition of true human nature.  To be vulnerable is to honestly inspect the meticulously crafted coherence of interlocking thoughts, allowing ideas of order, right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, to arise in the light of utter neutrality.  No feeding, no rationalizing, no explaining.  Only the absurdity of dogmatic investment in our own unquestioned assumptions.  To be vulnerable is to begin the process of disbelieving in yourself.  

Wandering into the land of my own unchallenged beliefs has been an exercise in humility.  I feel like I’m starting to understand all the warrior ethos books that implore the importance of strength, courage, tenacity, and honesty.  Becoming vulnerable, acknowledging the deep itch of that one simple question–what is true?–is not a quest to take lightly.  How does one respond to a head-on collision with the undeniable disparity between map and territory?  Probably in the same way one responds to a head-on car crash.

This all sounds like word soup again–the enemy of vulnerability.  Vulnerability is simple, because truth is simple.  It stands for itself, symbol-less and free. 

My concepts are collapsing.  It’s hard to tell if it’s a uniform event–a sneaky central column implosion like Tower 7–or if it’s fragmented, chunks of coagulated philosophical investment flaking off like an old scab.  Either way, I’m sliding into unanimous uncertainty, ground-turning-quicksand-turning-cloud.  I’ve been here before, near-breaks–despair and claustrophobia at once.  I know this place, the excruciatingly personal and unavoidable bitch slap flying in slow motion toward my turned cheek. 

And I climbed from this place once, ducking Truth’s onslaught at the last possible moment, turning away and starting back up the long, fossil-filled and carcass-ridden hill to normality.  Unfortunately, skeletons are no true guide.  Once the flesh has dissolved, there is never again life to be found in empty eye sockets and bridge-less nasal cavities.  These ghosts will only confuse, pointing left when the trail clearly forks right.

So what remains?  For all my efforts to know, to understand, I feel no closer to the nucleus.  For all my efforts to ignore, despite my best attempt at retrograde, I feel no closer to normal. 

The tight squeeze.  To know or not to know, while giving up the meaning of that word entirely.  To trust the untrustable.  I guess that’s faith.  I suppose vulnerability–with its heartbreaking gravity–whittles us down at its own pace.  From asking to urging to yanking to insisting. 

Maybe I can’t choose to not-know.  The shift seems to be in the quality with which I inspect the inner landscape.  An honest gaze seems to be the only requisite for the silliness of my mind to surface.  Simple and terrifying and painfully intriguing. 

All of this to say that our own progress hinges upon our ability to see our shortcomings as objectively as possible.  I have to be alright with being wrong, being blatantly, obviously wrong about everything.  I have to allow the amputation–no anesthesia, not even a morphine drip–of my most sacred places of psychic refuge.  I have to shed the anchor of pride and admit to my hubris and feel the bite of my own absurd proselytizing.  And to do it, I have to sit still and just fucking make it happen–mind open, willing, and brave. 

 

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2 thoughts on “Embracing True Vulnerability

  1. Vulnerability and uncertainty are the ushers of death (separation) and as such, are detested by humanity as if they were the grim reaper himself. Every time we get one of those feelings, we are reminded of the unknowable but certain fact of own mortality. It is easier to pretend like it’s not happening, latch on to something familiar, and project confidence and fearlessness as we set up shop on the edge of the cliff. The silly thing is, of course, that in our refusal to see what it means to be mortal, we don’t see the crack slowly forming behind us, and the more shit we gather and attach to, the heavier our little outpost becomes. One day, without warning, the cliff will crumble and we (outpost, belongings, attachments and all) will go plummeting away into the void.

    Running blindly in a panic off the edge does nothing for us either, because we would miss all the lovely smells and tastes and smiles of the blurred outposts scattered along the way.

    Its like a calm meandering, stopping in at any post you see fit for as long or as short as you like. There is a time for gathering, a time for shedding, a time for sneaking away in the night, and a time to rest and build something of value to any weary travellers who may be passing through.

    The sad thing, I think, and probably exactly what you are saying, is that due to external influence, it is hard to know whether to stay or keep on meandering. Is it “me” who wants to stay, or is it “them” who I would disappoint? Camus’ “The Outsider (or Stranger)” is a fucking brilliant take on this idea. True embodiment of the no-self (the genuine acceptance of the futility of doing things because they ought to be done, rather than doing things because it is honest) leads to almost certain exile because the concept is so foreign and terrifying to a human mind. How could you be ok, knowing that nothing means anything?

    That seeking your own truth may open you up to live your life a way that no one else could possibly understand. Which one is less bearable? Exile or dishonesty? I don’t know that answer to that – I should like to believe that love rides along somewhere in the middle and that is the ultimate goal. Sorry it took me so long to write this, I’ve been wasting all my writing powers on a strange man with a mullet in a jungle… 🙂

  2. I can especially relate to this quote: “Wandering into the land of my own unchallenged beliefs has been an exercise in humility.” Be your own worst critic is a useful reminder, though cliche, that comes to mind. I find the more honest and critical I am with myself, the more fluid life becomes, the more chips seem to fall where I want them. Perhaps it’s just that we are able to step outside of ourselves better when we’re tough on our choices and not tough on our true selves, the selves hidden down underneath it all. Ya know what I mean?

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