“I couldn’t hear the music, I couldn’t remember how to play my own song.” ~ Anne Lamott
I’m still digging it up, still brushing it off, but there’s something here. Something is just below the surface, and I’m wiggling it like a loose tooth and every now and then I get the sense that if I knock it free I may find more of myself down there, parts of me that had been covered over.
Before I was just sitting on the side of the pool with an unsettling chill, knowing that I wanted to swim but afraid of the water’s shock. My breathing is still labored and nervous but I think it’s going to be ok. I think I’ll swim on.
“Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”
~ Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies
What we’re talking about here is the grace you find when you are willing to be vulnerable, willing to get it wrong, willing to fail, when you’re willing to walk that path alone, at least for a little while. Because even though failing and getting it wrong are not what we’re after, it’s only when we’re willing to take that risk that we can connect.
We learn for ourselves that the worst thing is not exposing ourselves to potential ridicule or embarrassment. The worst thing is protecting yourself too carefully against it. Because under those risks and vulnerabilities is the juice, the breeze, that takes you from here to there and you get to see your whole-self. You find the parts you thought you could operate without but that left you only half living. And I’m new to this territory but I get the sense that you can’t get there any other way. You have to be willing to pass through here.
Vulnerability and Connection
I saw a really interesting TED Talk by Brene Brown a researcher studying connection, and why some people have a harder time feeling connected than others.
I related to this instantly and yet I’ve never heard it discussed before except in relation to babies and how they bond. But connection and how we do it and the dynamics of it is one of those truths that underpin our lives but isn’t talked about. It’s like the air we breathe. It’s significant to everything and yet because it’s untouchable it’s just there, it remains an unknown given, with no vernacular.
Ultimately Brene and her team of researchers found that the single most important difference between people who have a hard time connecting and those that don’t is vulnerability. It’s the people who are willing to reach out, to risk rejection, to be vulnerable, who have the easiest time connecting. Those of us who are bracing against the fall, afraid to be disappointed, hurt, heartbroken, left out, have a harder time connecting because connecting requires risk.
Is this related to the risk it takes to be wholly yourself? To find your voice? To find your purpose? I think so.