Vulnerability…Life without Walls

23 Mar

In my years of spending time with people with intellectual disabilities I’ve learned what is perhaps the most valuable lesson of my life: we all wear walls, life is better without them.

I have spent countless days of my life carrying emotional burdens deep inside that are protected by walls of my own creation. The result of this medieval-style fortification sounds something like this…

Person A: “Hey! How are you?”

Me: “Good. You?”

Such lies! I can’t even imagine what life would be like if we all just let loose, tore down our strongholds brick by brick, and expressed truthfully how we actually felt.

Well….maybe I can.

My friends with intellectual disablities are masters of authenticity. If they’re sad they’ll cry and score a hug; if they’re mad, duck your head or lose it; if they’re happy the world is suddenly aglow not only for them, but also for anyone close enough to soak up the sunny rays coming from their beaming smiles. The TED talk posted above lays out (in a more scholarly version than I have just painted) the characteristics necessary to live with a whole heart: 

  1. Courage to live imperfectly
  2. Compassion, first for self, then for others
  3. Connection with others as a result of authenticity – the ability to let go of who others think you should be
  4. VULNERABILITY; which gives birth to joy, happiness, and generalized emotion

I have experienced live, walking tutorials of what it is to live wholeheartedly, vulnerable, and wall-free. Despite this, I still cling to the rocks and grout that offer me a shield from the elements. My hope is that one day I will allow myself to be truly vulnerable. Perhaps then I will know what it is to truly BE.

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One Response to “Vulnerability…Life without Walls”

  1. Patricia Cone March 24, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    (In my humble opinion) one of the best ways to foster one’s own vulnerability is to have compassion and respect for the vulnerabilities of others.

    Thanks for your post. I enjoyed reading it. Hopefully I’ll get around to watching the TED talk (but supper comes first!)

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