I am here again! And today I know what I am going to write about. I am sorry. I realise there are prompts for each day’s 500 words. But I am on my trip… as usual. Today I want to write about Vulnerability. A word that I have been preoccupied with for the last 9 years. I was reminded of it again yesterday when I watched a Ted Talk by Amanda Palmer titled ‘The Art of Asking’ http://on.ted.com/Amanda. (Thanks Sadha for the link). She speaks about asking for help – be it a couch to crash out in, or the help of other musicians and fans of her music or the help of strangers.
Now, in today’s world, forget asking for help from strangers, we are taught from a very young age to not talk to strangers… to not even make eye contact with strangers. We have learnt to equate the word stranger with danger and evil. And in some cases this equation may even be justified. Anyway, which one amongst us is willing to take the risk, especially where the safety of our children are involved! We’d rather build higher walls than risk the safety of our kids.
Then I watched Amanda standing naked amongst her fans, after a particular show, allowing them to write on her body. Like she said, this was taking trust to a different level altogether. I am not even tempted to try. But there was a deeper truth in there that rang so true to me. I was lucky enough to grow up in a world where fellow human beings were still treated with trust, rightly or wrongly. Over the years and with experience I have built up my walls. Walls, the bricks and mortar of which are suspicion, sarcasm, cynicism, anger, toughness, even humour.
And then my daughter was born. She is everything I am not… or rather, she is everything I have trained and taught myself to not be. She is emotional and vulnerable. Rejection on the playground doesn’t faze her. She is back right there, reaching out again to that kid who refused to play with her! She has been like this since she could walk! And when she would walk away, sad after yet another rebuff, I would take her hand and walk around and chatter brightly and then ‘advice’ her. “If some kid doesn’t want to play with you, ignore them. You will find better friends to play with.”
Luckily my kid, even as a toddler, had better sense than me. There she was. Again. In the playground. Walking up to that girl! God! Really! Will this child never learn!? Apparently not!
I tied myself up in knots at how vulnerable a position my daughter was placing herself in by opening herself up to this kind of rejection. My eyes would fill up with tears as I watched her reach out, sometimes risk rejection and often make friends with the other kids in the neighbourhood. Over the years she has made many good friends and a few ‘bestest’ friends. And since we are expatriates living in a foreign land, she has also had to watch a few friends go away and cried over it. But the next day she is back out there. Again! In this world. Making friends.
Over the years I have learnt that she is not a fool for being this trusting and vulnerable – about the whole process of life. She is not being foolish when she is not guarded and protected. She is being brave. There is a lot of courage involved in being vulnerable and trusting the world to take care of you… in being willing to risk getting hurt. And the child has become the teacher of the father… mother in this case.
And no, that girl still did not want to play with my daughter. But that still did not deter her from reaching out! They did eventually end up playing once in a while, until we moved out of that neighbourhood.
I have over the years begun to knock some of those bricks out. Unknowingly, the world and I have given my daughter a few bricks to build her own wall. Hopefully, she has the sense to build a picket fence instead of a wall.