Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vulnerable

When the going gets tough the tough get going... I used to misunderstand this saying. Tough meant stoic, harsh, determined, shear power struggle until I won. Then one day it occurred to me that I was exhausting myself being tough. I read about body armor and stood in front of the mirror identifying myself as a "Challenger/Defender" and wondered if it was a coincidence that wherever I went, something got unsettled. I used to joke that my middle name was "Change".

Years later a friend of mine pointed out that my proper middle name "Sasheva" was sexy and it purrs. Funny but by then I had already thrown away most of my more tough looking attire, and lace, flowing skirts and sheer fabrics were already occupying a sizable portion of closet space. By then I had been given my alter ego – the flamboyant tango dancer, an ample amount of room to express herself and yes, she could purr, dance and glide through life.  

Still, I had never really put it all together until he started calling me Sasheva instead of my given name. At first it sounded weird because no one has ever called me by my middle name. Underneath the discomfort I found a smile. Underneath the smile I found an authenticity that put into perspective the changes that have been happening in the last 5 years of my life, most of which were creeping in even before.

I realized that the meaning of tough has changed for me to mean something like the nurturing, soft persistence of water on its mission of shaping the Grand Canyon. Tough had a raw softness and exposed vulnerability to it that made for more sincere and honest interactions. All of the sudden the laws of physics totally made sense in terms of human relationships. Every action produces an equal and opposing reaction, therefore if you push, they shove. The further you pull away the stronger you snap back, just to crash at the point of origination, thus there was no escaping the realization that I was my mother after all. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is chaos theory, fancy way of saying that we are all interdependent and we should pay attention to that.

It’s easy to say “I don’t care” when we actually do and care a lot. What we get in return is “I don’t care right back at ya” and no one is happy. It’s harder to put into words feelings because feelings are elusive and words are clumsy in comparison. Yet, life is about nuances. The very search for the right words is a space we share with each other and is more meaningful than slamming a door in the other’s face. Furthermore, being vulnerable is special because it gives someone else the opportunity to reach out, connect and lift you up. We all love to be needed and valued. If none of us is ever vulnerable, then who will ever feel needed and valuable in return? We rob each other of the opportunity to share our goodness with each other when we are stuck in our armor and warring states.  

Honesty is what makes it all jive together. Without honesty with our own selves, we won’t know what it is we are doing, needing and communicating. We may mistake needy for vulnerable and manipulative for caring. We may mistake lace for weapons and purring for a growl. In yoga language – discernment and practice lead to liberation. In the language of quantum physics – the observer has a lot to do with what is being observed. In the language of physiology – we feel better when we are with people who feel better themselves.

When I think of tough now, I think of the goddess Isis and her magical ways with which she cared for everyone – sinners and saints, maidens and artists, slaves and aristocrats, the living and the dead. Motherly but purposeful, soft but assertive, clever and carrying. The river Nile flooded every year with her tears of sorrow for her brother Osiris, out of which came fertility and life sustaining nourishment. If she decided to say “I don’t care” and acted stoic, what would the outcome be? Probably she would not be a goddess.

I found a picture of Isis, just the way I had dreamt of her wearing the head dress of Hathor with the sun disk between the cow horns, kneeling on the ground with her arms outstretched into beautiful wings as if ready to embrace the whole world. I printed it and pinned it above my computer desk, to remind myself to check in with Sasheva once in a while and to keep softening.


Who is your intrinsic god/goddess? 

Valentina Petrova
info@thisfulfillinglife.com

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