Vulnerability is the capacity to walk through life without armour or defence, knowing that just being ourselves is enough, says Suma Varughese
Lessons in vulnerabilityDeepti G Gujar writes about her own experiences with vulnerability
It was a rainy evening and I was desperate to meet the man I was in love with. The first urge was to show up at his door, uninformed. But as I made my way back from work, a million excuses ran through my head to not do this. It was a sort of unrequited love. And so it was very hard to show up and say, “Hey, I thought I would drop by because I was missing you”, as my mind added,“…even though you perhaps do not even think of me!” In the face of all those thoughts that ranged from "I am crazy!” to "What is my intention behind this?" to "Should I take flowers for him?” I still turned up at his door. As life would have it, there was no one home. Greatly disappointed at not having achieved anything after braving such a battle, in addition to missing him even more, I went back and messaged him, "Hey, I was at your door. Just wanted to drop by and say Hi”. I didn't expect any reply. So I was quite surprised when almost instantly he called up. It was most unexpected, and yet thrilling. In the course of the conversation, I could sense that he wasn't all that keen on seeing me. I tried to be brave about it, but suddenly something in me decided that I didn't want to be brave and pretend that I was okay about it. So I told him the truth as I heard it in my head. And not being used to being so bare-boned truthful, in the course of it I got overwhelmed and started crying. I didn't know what else to tell him but the fact that I missed him and all I wanted was to see him. That one conversation opened up a big door between us. I guess neither of us was really prepared for my vulnerability. After I hung up I felt clearer than I had in months. When I reflected, I realised how afraid I was to be totally truthful in the closest of my relationships. Even to myself as a matter of fact. I had spent the last few hours arguing to myself about the sanity of my decision to see him. I had almost argued my heart down. The relationship took a new level that day on. We grew closer, and there was shared intimacy. Suddenly, it was easy to be honest with him. I felt like a child! I also learnt that the heart expresses itself through the body. I wondered what made me turn up at his doorstep. It was a knowingness that I felt in my own body. It was not mind over body. It was heart owning body.
A few months later I was called in by my then manager to discuss the issue of my being one of the last people to turn up to work in a workplace that boasted of flexible timings. My teeth were clenched. I knew he would give me a hard time and talk about policies and ethics, typical corporate style. The truth was that I no longer wanted to work in an IT organisation. I was done with my career with just five years of experience. As negotiations took place in office, my heart's voice became clearer, and my mind threw up every fearful story under the sun. One day, I decided to end this game. In fear and agony, I resigned. But in my heart the wisdom was like clear still water that does not even want to flow to show it exists. That day I learnt vulnerability to one's own self – to see the naked truth of how split we are so much of the time. It taught me courage. I had read somewhere that the etymology of courage was "of the heart". I had believed that one has to be totally fearless before making any decision. I saw big flaws in this belief. The first being that the biggest decisions don't get made, they are made by your heart and you discover them along the way. Second being that even when you are that clear in your heart, fear can still show up. And that is where you have to act not on the fear, but on the heart's voice. Somewhere in this spiritual grind of things we go on a constant loop to fix all our fears. Are we trying to be immune to life through this? I realised that that is what spirituality had become for me, whereas the only way to live life and feel its raw beauty, is to be vulnerable to its unpredictability.
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