This I Believe
I am afraid of the dark. Heart-stopping afraid of the dark. Ask anyone who knows me. They’ll tell you stories; some I will be in the woods, for some I will be in a living room. Just the absence of light terrifies me. I feel vulnerable.
One of my favorite pastimes, however, is driving in the dark. Not just driving to buy-milk-and-bread driving, but intense, hour-long, pointless driving. One of the things I discovered is, in certain places, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I can drive without headlights. I am engulfed in darkness. I can only see enough to know I will not go off the side of the road. I cannot see beyond the shoulder and I am completely susceptible to any surprise that awaits me. It is dangerous. I am not a thrill seeker and I avoid anything remotely dangerous. That is probably why I am afraid of the dark.
Several times, I have tried to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes driving in a black abyss so appealing. I’m yet to figure it out. The only reason I have come up with is that it makes me feel vulnerable. Knowing that nothing separates me from a cliff is, well, invigorating. I only have a split-second to react to what I see; I cannot anticipate anything in advance. I feel safe from the things that normally frighten me as I am presented with this new form of mortality.
I believe in the importance of being vulnerable. While some would look at this as a suicidal act or a cry for help, I see it as a different kind of spirituality. I have to have faith in something huge to put myself in that kind of peril. Vulnerability is very humbling. I immediately realize that I am in control of so little. It deflates my ego. It puts my life into perspective.
I call this voluntary vulnerability. I have subjected myself to it. I recognize that I need to be humbled. Without vulnerability, society would never humble itself. We believe ourselves capable of anything and everything and our heads swell with notions of personal grandeur; something as huge as 9-11 has to happen for us to realize our vulnerability. We thought it impossible because we forgot to be vulnerable. Nobody likes egotistical people, and if it were not for vulnerability the world would be full of them. How is it then that “vulnerable” has become a negative word? When people describe young girls as vulnerable I realize the truth in that statement, in a positive manner. She is vulnerable. She relies on something bigger than she is, whether it is a deity or society. She recognizes that she is not the center of the universe.
To me, vulnerable is not the negative word. To me self-sufficiency is a deception.
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