9 years ago I wrote a blog post called Being Vulnerable. I know, because that’s the title I was thinking about for this very article. Before starting to write what you’re going to read now, I did a search on my own blog, because, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had the feeling that I wrote about this before. And oh, I was so right.
Funny how life puts you in similar positions every once in a while. In moments like these you understand what all the great thinkers and philosophers and gurus mean when they say life has a certain circularity. It did feels that I’m running around in circles, only they aren’t really circles, they are spirals. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start this slowly.
The Forgotten Space
During the quarantine I started a long distance relationship. I know, not a great timing. Most of the people I know separated from their current partners during the lockdown, but hey, I never claimed I’m “most of the people”. Long story short, for about 3 months I was “technologically” together with a beautiful woman. Meaning we got to talk with each other on screens for hours, every day.
We knew each other before, but we only met once, 8 years ago, at an event I was hosting back then, and briefly chatted for at most 10 minutes. That was our only interaction in real life. After that, we kept in touch on social media, but never really talked. By some coincidence, we started to talk again, this time online, exactly when the quarantine started in Spain. I know, I know, coincidences are Universe’s way of making fun of our certainties.
8 years is a long time. I had barely remembering how she was looking, and, obviously, she was barely remembering how I look. But one thing led to another, and, in a very short time, we became very close.
Now, both “long distance” and “relationship” weren’t exactly on my to do list. Especially the “long distance” part. But I kept dancing, because the dance was beautiful, and allowed things to unfold at their own speed. After a couple of weeks of really intense and immersive interaction, we both wanted to take this out of 2d and move it to 3d, but the lockdown was really strict. We were right in the middle of the draconic Spanish quarantine. I had to postpone my flight 5 times, after each prolongation of the “estado de alarma”. Quite frustrating.
Fast forward 3 months and we finally know for sure when we will be able to see each other in 3d. Quarantine was approaching its end and, eventually, my flight wasn’t cancelled anymore. As the flight date was approaching, we both started to experience various feelings, from exhilaration to anxiety. I went through a roller-coaster of emotions. With just 2 days before the flight, I snapped. I decided this thing isn’t worth pursuing and I got out (by overreacting badly to a mild conversation).
And that’s the place that I wanted to talk about. That’s where the “being vulnerable” part gets in. It’s a place where we get to make a choice. And that choice is: remain in your comfort zone, and continue feeling safe, or engage with the unknown, and risk disappointment or rejection.
Playing It Real
My initial decision was to confine myself in the comfort zone, the same way the pandemic locked us down, in our houses. But, after one and a half day of thoughts and inner unrest, I switched.
I decided I will go and meet her, confronting the “talking heads” image (that’s how we referred to each other, because all we got to see was our heads on our phones) with the real person. I won’t give the details, but just getting there was intense (I arrived one day before the scheduled flight, and not by plane, I took a different route). I did this while the quarantine was still enforced, so please don’t tell anyone ;).
I decided to face the reality, although reality was the big unknown in this equation. I realized that getting out of this long distance relationship, before even seeing each other, will cut off any potential of this encounter. Still, the encounter could go south or north. The probability to get just a huge misunderstanding (remember, we didn’t see each other before), or a wonderful relationship, was still the same.
But not playing the odds at all, well, that would have been just wrong.
Vulnerability is the crack that lets the light in, as Leonard Cohen put it, brilliantly.
That crack is throwing us off big time and we feel confused, unsure, and frightful. We fear more than we hope. But it’s the same crack that can enlighten all those hidden spots in ourselves where big wounds are still hurting.
So, why is the “Reloaded” part in the title of this article? Well, because the basics on being vulnerable were already touched in the first article, the one I wrote 9 years ago. I knew all there was to be known about this.
“Reloaded” means that even if we know, in our heads, how to be vulnerable, life doesn’t happen in our heads. It happens in our hearts. And we never know when life will throw us again in similar circumstances, in which we face the same decision: risk the safety we already have and stay comfortably numb, or throw ourselves ahead, give our best and play our chances at having something beautiful, while still being prepared to lose completely our old versions in the process.