Weakness? Defenselessness? Helplessness? Webster—and most of society —has got it all wrong. Intentional vulnerability isn’t weakness; it requires great inner strength to be willing to be open and present oneself at risk of possible harm. The price one pays in remaining vulnerable is the occasional harm from those who take advantage. Those with the ready blade of a sharp word will cut the exposed throat, not realizing that they themselves are the victims of a facade, populating a world that exists only superficially and is easily shattered. The victory doesn’t even last to the next encounter.
Those who choose to be open—to be vulnerable—chance being hurt in exchange for the possibility of intimate connection. This is not to encourage indiscriminate openness, for the scars can accumulate to create an almost impenetrable shell. But careful and selective revelation of self can elicit a like response, and the reward is another link in the ethereal chain of human intimacy. It is what all of us seek, at least those who haven’t given up in despair that it is unattainable. This genuine intimacy is the closest we can come to a spiritual experience in corporeal form.
The choice is ours, with every personal encounter. To what degree do we reveal ourselves? I think we are richer for choosing vulnerability.