Vulnerability, Creativity and Change
The other day I was reflecting on my young adulthood and the times I felt vulnerable to attack and what came from those experiences. I remembered driving in a van with four other white male hippies from Colorado to Florida in 1971. This was after the freedom riders, the murder of civil rights sympathizers, the turmoil of the Vietnam war in the sixties throughout the USA and before interstate highways in most of the country. Once we crossed the invisible borderline into the Old South, every stop at a gas station or restaurant was met with fear and trepidation as we were aliens in foreign country.
Wherever we showed up in public we were met with condescending looks, sneers, reviling comments and threats. We made our way staying as invisible as possible. It showed me, in a very telling way, what it was like to be a minority susceptible to threat and violence. The difference for us was we could cut our hair, our beards, dress differently and fit in. For women, the disabled, people of color and anyone on the ‘other side’ of the given norms and power structures there was no cover.
I then reflected on my hitchhiking experiences from Colorado west to California making loops north up the coast through Oregon and Washington and west back through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as well as loops south down the coast and west back through Arizona, New Mexico and back to Colorado. The vulnerability was different and the same. The difference was that there were more people like me in the West. The sameness was that I could be a target anytime as a stranger in a strange land.
The lessons learned in these experiences and many others in life taught me to be creative in the midst of change. They taught me to face my fears and walk through them in ways I had to learn on the journey. Each experience was unique and yet the same. Each journey was different yet challenged my resolve to do what was necessary to survive and even thrive. Each day opened me to a sense of wonder and creativity that nurtured a feeling of well-being while standing at life’s crossroads waiting for my ride.
Today, so many decades later I’m still standing at life’s crossroads waiting for my ride. I’m not concerned which road I’ll take so there’s nothing to decide. It all depends on the one that stops to invite me in. The road, the ride, the people change but not the final end and what’s the final end? Another beginning, always another beginning. Each day everyone of us has another opportunity to create something that’s never existed before. It all may seem the same but when we get deeply into the moment, it’s never the same.
As I sit here writing these words I’m reflecting on the five hundred plus times I’ve sat here writing these articles over the past five years. In one way it’s the same. In a host of other ways it’s different. Each time something new is created. Each time I’m coming from the same and different space. Each word, thought, remembrance, idea, reflection, insight and moment becomes a birthplace of fear, love, anxiety, joy, doubt, faith, disconnection and interconnection. Here vulnerability, courage and creativity converge.
Every once in awhile I think about you and how you respond to these writings. I wonder how personally you take these reflections, how meaningful they are to you, how your life has changed or not because of them. I wonder at the creativity they spark in you and not, the difference that we’re all making everyday of our lives. I wonder if this birthplace for me is also a kind of birthplace for you and how it is that you see through the illusions that get in the way of your creativity, faith, love, joy and interconnectivity.
I also recognize the vulnerability I engage every time I publish one of these reflections and how kind you’ve been in your responses. I’m recognizing how difficult it is to stand on the side of the road with a thumb out or in a social gathering with a hand out. I’m seeing the many challenges we humans have as we walk along the highways of life as strangers and friends while the nature of our meeting in the moment is something that has never existed before. This moment, always here and now in the wonder of wow!
I have the sense that I could keep tapping these keys, putting words on the screen and wake up to find myself with you having a cup of coffee in a cafe someplace we’ve never been before yet always known. This is the wonder and wealth of vulnerability, creativity and change. It’s the mystery of Life and the interconnected nature of every thought, word and action. Are we strangers in a strange land or are we sisters and brothers from different mothers? The further I go on this journey the more I lean toward the latter. As every moment has never existed before we’re all free to be free creatively. . . .
So, as the door closes on this strange piece of literature I’m reminded of the wounds we’ve all experienced in our vulnerability. I’m also reminded of the great creativity, love, growth and change we’ve appreciated up to this moment. May we continue to find the courage to live, love, laugh and enlighten up for ourselves and others. May we continue to find the grace of every embrace that challenges us to become stronger as the road, the ride and people change to discover another end to begin again and again. May we continue to find the inner freedom that has nothing to lose as love lets go of fear.
- Allow yourself the gift of reflection today to look at the times in your life that you’ve felt vulnerable. . . . Note how these times became the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change for you in the short and long term. Notice where you are today.
- As you engage the above exercise, note how fear played into the decisions you’ve made and how you chose to move through the fear. What happened on the other side of fear when you courageously moved through it? If love is letting go of fear, what might happen in a vulnerable situation if you’d add more loving acceptance for all? Relax, take a deep breath, drop your shoulders, release the tension: birth lovingness.