It is easy to be guarded. It is the natural tendency as one grows older. As a child, one is open to the intensity, wonder and awe of being alive. When one is young, it is easy to question the apathy of others. Over time, after many trials and dissapointments, it becomes easier to be apathetic, and use this as a protective shell. But the very thing that one sought to protect can dissapear in the process of protecting it.
THE COST OF BEING OPEN
And the cost of being numb
What is the cost of being open? When one is open, one can get hurt. One can experience emotions that can sometimes be overwhelming. But perhaps it is better to learn the tools to deal with those experiences and those strong emotions than to deaden them altogether. When one deadens the bad, one deadens the good as well. The soup of life is not purely salty, but is salt the only thing your calloused tounge is tasting? The soup of life is filled with a wide variety of spices that make each spoonfull a rich and varied experience.
WHISKEY UNDER THE BRIDGE
Or is it a water wheel?
Too early in life one learns to deal with things as "whiskey under the bridge," as the country song goes. Just swallow it, man up, and move forward. This sounds like the valiant thing to do. Whiskey is hard. It feels rough going down the throat. And one’s valor and strength are symbolized by the slam of the glass right after. But whatever your whiskey is, the aesthetic of how toughly you deal with life's blows may only serve to cover up an underlying cowardice. At the center of it is fear. Fear of feeling, fear of knowing. To run from the emotions, to run from the truth, to run from oneself.
FEELING IS FOR THE STRONG
The courage of the first steps
It is a mistake to confuse purity and vulnerability with weakness and ignorance. In actuality, it is much harder to learn to maintain a pure state. It takes true courage to be vulnerable: to learn to face change as it comes, to learn to accept the truth as one discovers it, to learn to embrace every nuance of what one feels, and to learn to let life pass as the moments pass past us.
DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL STRENGTH
Much like working out, it grows the more you use it.
Emotional strength comes from developing the courage to face and accept your weaknesses, you strengths, your mistakes, your triumphs, and the experiences that have led you to where you are today. It also comes from learning to accept others as they are. Acceptance is the inner, life-long journey that leads to healing. It is from a state of acceptance that we gain the insight to transcend and transform.
MAKING IT A WAY OF LIFE
Turn the epiphany into a daily practice
Embarking on the journey to find, develop, and refine the tools to manage emotions and life's challenges shows strength and gives one strength. To want or desire or believe oneself to be strong is not enough. One must seek it every day, through the good and the bad. This is the journey that many of us are on: to surround ourselves with the people, habits, books, activities, and daily rituals that strengthen that flickering light inside so that it grows into a shining sun with no barriers from the inside to the outside.