Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vulnerability

Last week, I read Mitch Albom's bestseller, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It is a book that tells the story of a man by the name of Eddie who dies, goes to heaven and meets five people who explain his life to him. [A full review is coming as soon as my son reads the book & does his summer reading assignment; I'm not going to make it easy for him to copy my thoughts, if you know what I mean.] But there is one thing I wanted to mention now about the book that particularly struck me. 

Throughout the book while Eddie is in heaven, there are flashbacks to his time on earth. In one of them, Albom pulls the curtain back to see some of the true feelings of Eddy. We witness what's really going on in his mind and heart. One is when he wakes from a dream when he is 33 years old.
"And then he wakes up. Sweating. Panting. Always the same. The worst part is not the sleeplessness. The worst part is the general darkness the dream leaves over him, a gray film that clouds the day. Even his happy moments feel encased, like holes jabbed in a hard sheet of ice. 
He dresses quietly and goes down the stairs. The taxi is parked by the corner, its usual spot, and Eddie wipes the moisture from its windshield. He never speaks about the darkness to Marguerite. She strokes his hair and says,' What's wrong?' and he says, 'Nothing, I'm just beat,' and leaves it at that. How can he explain such sadness when she is supposed to make him happy? The truth is he cannot explain it himself. All he knows it that something stepped in front of him, blocking his way, until in time he gave up on things, he gave up studying engineering, and he gave up on the idea of traveling. He sat down in his life. And there he remained" (118).
The part that struck me is the part I underlined above. He never speaks about the darkness with his wife. She asks what's wrong and he says that nothing is wrong. He puts up a mask disguising the real issue going on in his heart. 

I wonder how many people really do this. How many people think its too dangerous to be vulnerable. How many people think its too risky to pull back the curtain of their life to allow someone to see inside.  When asked what is wrong, how many people will deflect the real issues and point to something simple . . . "I'm just tired." Why do so many people do this? Why do we do this? Why do I do this?

Vulnerability isn't easy. It is risky. It can be painful. But it is necessary if you are going to successfully deal with anything significant in your life. I've been thinking about this topic a lot recently and will continue to think about it. But until then . . .

Why do you think people avoid the risk and pain of vulnerability?

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