We have a tendency to avoid our own tender spots and to walk around the potholes of our vulnerability. We’re afraid of getting upset, apprehensive of being hurt, terrified by the prospect of feeling things too deeply. We know there exist certain conditions of mind and heart for which there is no numbing pill. We tend to think our threshold for discomfort is way lower than it actually is in part because our true limit hasn't ever been tested.
We dodge things that entail loss of control. We date people that we don’t love because that one time we fell in love for real it felt like a run away car that smashed into a brick wall at full speed. We swore we’d never do that again.
“I’m feeling steady right now” I tell myself. “I’ll just bypass anything that ruffles my feathers or gets me off course.” This is the equivalent of erecting a bubble and living inside it. In our protective avoidance we miss not only the grit but also the rapture. We keep out the danger forgetting that a little danger is actually good for us. A little turbulence reminds us that we’re alive.
We’re told from a young age not to get dirty, to keep our mouths, our hands, and our clothes clean. We look the other way when we walk by a homeless person, change the channel when we see appalling events on the news, and avoid our friend who just got diagnosed with cancer because we simply don’t know what to say. We’re afraid that one crack in our veneer will lead to the shattering of the whole vessel. We forget that we can’t be closed to some things and open to others. We can’t actually be closed and open at the same time.
We can only see ‘out there’ a reflection of what’s ‘in here’. If there are certain places ‘in here’ that we’re not willing to go, if there’s a certain depth ‘in here’ that we’re not willing to be with, then we’ll also not be able to be with that depth ‘out there’ or to even perceive that depth ‘out there’.
Some of my most cherish memories are of staying up way past my bedtime, feeling the moonlight on my face, and instead of averting my eyes, having a long hard look. Instead of avoiding the person that made me feel too much, I dove in. I trust the hurricane will not swallow me whole, or at least if it does, it will spit me, or at least some semblance of me, out on the other side.
Let yourself go. Walk through the door. Learn to sit in the fire with the pain, the loneliness, and the confusion. It is only by sitting in the blue heat at the fires’ core that you’ll access your true capacity to be there. In meeting my own shadow, I discovered that I could also meet your shame, guilt, and disillusionment and still hold steady.
Be defeated. Be disturbed. Be delirious. Let your hair get messy, go out on the coldest day and feel the frozen air sting your cheeks. Allow yourself to fall in love and feel the bare nakedness of that dizzying exposure. Stay up past your bedtime and revel not only in the night hours but actually feel the tiredness the next day—it is not your enemy. The next time you have a headache ride the waves of pain and notice the slight pause between throbs. Map your own discomfort. Befriend your bliss. Greet it with open arms.
Let life affect you. The heart can bear it all.
Copyright © 2015 Marie-Ève Bonneau