Friday, July 17, 2015
So much of my life I've felt the need to protect myself - physically, mentally, emotionally. There have been times when I've been paralyzed by my fear of vulnerability. Vulnerability and I have always had a very tumultuous relationship.
After I snapped the photo, I secured both feet on one rock, stepped onto a larger rock and sat down. I took a deep cleansing breath and looked around me. Water, trees, rocks all moved at their own speeds not giving a damn that I was trying to capture that moment in an image. It occurred to me in that moment that the very place where I was sitting was likely usually completely underwater.
Life is all about stepping out on to that rock and feeling that momentary instability to reach beyond the safe, the benign, the expected to embrace possibility. Life is all about the moment we keep trying to capture as it slips away. Every moment is vulnerable to being lost yet I have lost so many because I feared the vulnerability a particular moment demanded.
All of this bubbled to the surface as I sat on that rock with a waterfall in front of me and water sliding over and around the many rocks in the creek.
I pondered the words I'd written for that blog post and realized the reason I felt so unhappy with it was it felt like I was complaining that I hadn't reached my destination yet. It discussed my journey into vulnerability, the rewards I'd found in risking being vulnerable, and yet bemoaned that I still struggle with vulnerability.
My journey to let down my guard, to embrace my vulnerability, to be me consequences-be-damned, is ongoing. It very well might never end. And, that's okay.
Much of my struggle to risk vulnerability bled into my writing over the past several years. The words I wrote showed me how interconnected strength and vulnerability are. I rediscovered my strength in my vulnerability. I included several of the poems I've written exploring the connection between strength and vulnerability in my book, Strength in Silhouette: Poems and will include more in my upcoming book, Vulnerability in Silhouette: Poems. Writing about vulnerability and strength were important aspects of my journey because I generally find my way to my truth by writing, especially writing poetry.
As I continue on this journey to vulnerability one of my greatest struggles is to release my tendencies toward perfectionism. No matter how much I intellectually let go of my inner need to be perfect, it comes back to haunt me. I know how unrealistic perfectionism is, but that doesn't stop all the fears of being seen, really being seen, imperfections and all from bubbling to the surface.
So, as I sat in the middle of Sweet Creek on a rock that should be covered by water, I looked at the combination of abundance and lack around me. I felt at peace. I saw the beauty in the imperfection of the forest, the creek, the rocks. Yes, the creek not being full indicates a shortage of water, and that makes me sad. Yet, if there was water, I wouldn't be able to sit in the middle of the creek. I felt an odd sort of connection not only to that creek but to my work and my life. I sat in that moment, that short moment, and took in everything around me. That beautiful creek was no less wonderful for not being full, but it needs the nourishment of water flowing through it in order to remain what it is. And, I need the nourishment of the strength found in vulnerability flowing through me to write, to edit, to produce...
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted, five books of poetry, and a book of short stories. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, creating plant-based recipes, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.