friends, month of letters

the world is too much with us: a meditation on vulnerability

Today is February 3. It is Day 3 of the Month of Letters challenge; so far, I am meeting the challenge, with postings to friends in Minnesota, Texas and Northern New Jersey.

Day 2: a letter and some photos off to Austin, TX

This weekend, I will spend at least an hour organizing mailings for the coming week.

Today’s letter is written to a dear friend in Northern New Jersey. In it, I said the following:

I believe in being vulnerable. I believe it is a good and necessary thing in this world. I believe that being hurt and allowing others to see it is a path toward growth, toward greater compassion and forgiveness. And maybe wisdom.

I think that, more often than not, I practice this in my daily life. I am open to people from the beginning, and often even after others suggest I shouldn’t be. I have several friends who believe that vulnerability is a weakness, or something shameful, and I simply disagree.

Day 3: a letter of openness

I read the most appalling article this afternoon. It was painful in so many ways, and I really feel now that my heart is heavier than it was an hour ago. There is a physical ache in my chest, and, in this moment, I am fearful in ways that I have only barely imagined.

I wanted to close down when I read this. I wanted to not feel anything. Instead, I am choosing – actively, consciously choosing – to feel it. And already, I am experiencing the compassion: a Twitter friend is sending me  poems to act as a balm, starting with Dorothy Parker’s “Resumé.”

Be vulnerable, friends.


[post title taken from Wordsworth’s awesome poem]


8 thoughts on “the world is too much with us: a meditation on vulnerability”

  1. I should know better than to click on articles that people find appalling, and then I end up doing it anyway. One can only continue to hope, and to do what one can: that’s part of the path towards compassion and wisdom too.

  2. I agree about vulnerability. We are all vulnerable. How else will we know one another?

    The Rolling Stone article is distressing. Oh, I feel for those families, those kids. I see why you are aching. I am aching, too.

  3. @ Joseph – You are right, hope plays a larger role in this than we remember to acknowledge. I have hope that it will get better; I have to.

    @ Kathleen – I ask myself the same question; perhaps I should be posing that question to my friends who wish to never be vulnerable.

  4. Being vulnerable is what makes us human, what makes us interesting. I never met a person I wanted to know better who thought they were impervious to pain. I agree with Joseph that we need to do what we can as individuals and remain hopeful for something better, but it certainly doesn’t make the suffering of others any easier to take.

  5. @Donna – I don’t think I know anyone who believes they are impervious; only a few who think that to make themselves vulnerable to others is somehow a weakness. So instead, they put on a brave face all the time.

    @Andrea B – Thank you. Really.

  6. Great post.
    While I was reading this post, Leonard Cohen’s Halleluhah was playing in the background, that someone else had linked elsewhere. Then I read the poem you linked, and truly, beautiful convergence. We can only be vulnerable because otherwise, the hole grows.

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