Monday, January 18, 2010

"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust..."

Friday night I rode the metro home after seeing a movie with a new group of friends. We stood there clinging to the poles, complete strangers and yet sharing struggles, hopes and fears, laughing with the lightness that comes from a collective carrying of burdens. And I wondered to myself, why is it sometimes easier to share vulnerabilities with a stranger?

None of us judged eachother.

The only aura between us was the shared understanding of what it means to be different in a society which eschews diversity even as it applauds it.

We parted ways and I felt a little raw inside. Who is this new me that tells strangers about myself? I used to be shy! (Maybe it's the blog. I should blame it all on the blog!)

So I was thinking of all this, how it feels to open up and expand.

Sometimes I feel like I am ripping open my life. It's exhilarating and terrifying, this trusting of others. Philip Greenspun wrote about it in Travels with Samantha, a cross-country trip he took alone with his dog. He wanted to go out into the world to see if he would be ok. Somehow we all have to find this out for ourselves, and it seems that's the journey I am on now.

I switched lines and waited for the next train thinking about all of this. I was in a questionable neighborhood trying not to draw attention to my lone female state, especially as I was already feeling vulnerable. I took out my phone to distract myself and started tweeting that I didn't feel safe when a scowling, burly guy dropped a two-way radio. The contents scattered everywhere just as the train pulled up.

I bent over to help him but he pulled back suspiciously until he looked up and realized I wasn't stealing his stuff. Our eyes met and we both peered at eachother from behind the walls of our shielded innards. That's when I realized I wasn't the only one who didn't feel safe.

And I thought, that's what we are seeking when we go out into the world.

We are all looking for humanity in eachother's eyes.

“We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” ~Walter Anderson

Arches National Park at sunset.
 May 2009

14 comments:

Niffer said...

Beautiful post and picture. This was very touching. It's such a shame that we all feel lonely in a world full of people who feel lonely.

Dan said...

What's up with that last comment? Is that spam?

Anyway I loved your eloquent post.

Libby said...

Beautiful. And yes, blame it all on the blog ;-)

Rebecca said...

Another fabulous photo. When I finally start buying, I'm gonna have a hard time stopping.

Niffer said...

I think that one comment is definitely spam. For some reason I've been getting similar comments on my blog but I just reject them.

Here's another one to remind you that I love your photos!

spleeness said...

Yeah, I just deleted that comment. I'm not sure how "I'm making myself photovoltaic panels!" relates to my thoughts here! I let people post without moderation so I guess things slip through now & then.

Thanks for your beautiful comments, they're making me feel warm inside. The community of friends I've got online around this blog means even more than I could ever express. :)

N.V. said...

it's so true! especially the quote that you included. This is why I love traveling so much; when you're in a foreign land, you constant have to trust others for everything (ie. that the taxi driver is actually taking you to where you need to be and not where you shouldn't be), but once you cross over that trust threshold and at end of day, sharing a meal w/ a complete stranger is an absolute joy. (Yes, sometimes we buy our taxi drivers dinner).

carissajaded said...

Such a beautiful post!! I don't know why it is so much easier to talk to strangers, but it certainly makes me feel better to do so an know that other people struggle through the same things that I do... and YES! blame it all on the blog... that's what I do at least!

Soda and Candy said...

beautiful post, spleeness.

Linda said...

this was beautiful and a blessing to read. Thank you!

geekhiker said...

This is both a lovely post and sentiment. Yet, I find in my own little world that I am withdrawing, sharing less and less as time goes by. Whether that's good or bad, I do not know, but it's happening nonetheless... maybe that's just the nature of living in L.A.

Talking to Stones said...

The really nice thing about opening up about yourself is that you learn that it's actually safe. Most people hesitate, feel shy, are reserved about themselves because of a subliminal fear that somehow they won't be appreciated, will be seen as lacking or strange, or would be imposing on someone who's not interested in them. Maybe it's due to things that happen in elementary and junior high school in the U.S., at least. However, once you actually cross that line and do open up, you find that those fears are limiting and cutting you off -- and unfounded. The truth is, when you open up about yourself you connect with other people, and those connections are much more meaningful, invigorating, and self-strengthening than the interactions you have with people while holding yourself back. And you find that other people are, for the most part, going to take care with your inner self. They, too, have inner selves they want people to appreciate. And they can commiserate and understand when you connect with each other this way. More people should connect like this -- it would make a huge difference in the level of inconsiderate, mean, careless, rude behavior and attitudes going around in the world. They all stem from the level of dissociation people feel from others. So, more power to you, my dear, as you go about discovering your newly-revealing self! There's not a person who could fail to be utterly charmed by you!

Diana said...

This comment reflects my innermost feelings. Surrounded by people polite but not caring of whether I exist or not - I feel cold. I afraid to open up to people because I'm very sensitive and if other person does not reflect my opennes, I'm deeply wounded. So many wounds in my heart, I can barely stand it. But still I want to get warmth from people and this is impossible without getting close to them, without opening up. So what to do?

spleeness said...

@Diana - what to do? I think there are no hard & fast rules but the answer lies somewhere in taking chances. Trying to open up with people a little at a time and see how you feel, see how receptive they are, how much they give back. You're bound to get at least a certain percent of success.

I've noticed that when I to put myself out there, other people respond similarly. If they don't, and I end up feeling too vulnerable without reciprocity, I back away from the relationship. I figure I'll try again, better luck next time. (After nursing the wound. :)

It takes time to learn to trust. And everytime you try, you run the risk of being hurt.

Although I believe it gets easier with time, it's good to have things that comfort, like a journal or teddybear or hot tea or whatever. And lots of positive messages that you are worthy and beautiful, just as every person on earth is. This will help heal the little hurts and strengthen your recovery time so you can take more chances.

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