ESSAY

Week 4

Inhabiting Vulnerability

Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without; vulnerability is not a choice. Vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature. The attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to be something we are not, and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity….

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance. Our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or, conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

by David Whyte, excerpted from “VULNERABILITY,” from CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, published by Many Rivers Press in 2015.