A meandering take on honesty, vulnerability, and courage

Written by hootenannie on February 24th, 2015

I hate conflict and I hate humiliation. If someone wants to have an honest conversation that would require me to say something that might hurt their feelings, I turn tail and run like a deer. I’m learning to be better, be braver – but I know that no matter how good I get at it, I’ll always have a hard time with the type of honesty called BRUTAL honesty.

I watched “The Voice” tonight, and anytime a singer would get a zero chair turn, I would have to mute the TV and look away. I can’t handle it. Heartbreak breaks my heart. And even if these people weren’t completely heartbroken, I was heartbroken.

As my sister-in-law recently pointed out, I am a professional empathizer. And maybe that’s my issue – I internalize events around me, for better and for worse.

A few months ago, I heard that an entire herd of elk fell through the ice of a reservoir in Pagosa Springs. All 20 of them were found the next day, frozen to death. I thought of their panic, however animalistic, and I cried.

A few days ago, I saw a 4-year old girl run full-force across an airport to jump into her grandma’s arms. I witnessed her beautiful and wholehearted freedom, and I cried.

I want to have it both ways. I want to block out the bad and experience the good, but that just isn’t possible. An open heart means that I accept the joy and the pain in equal measure.

I once heard an interview with J.K. Rowling in which she said something like, “Courage is the most important virtue, because it’s the only one we can’t fake.” Courage is strength IN THE FACE of one’s fear. I can pretend to be kind, pretend to be gracious – but courageous? The very definition acknowledges that we are not yet the thing that we hope to be – but we choose it anyway.

It takes courage to be honest and vulnerable. It takes courage to let your guard down and allow the world to beat at your heart. It takes courage to hear about animals dying and not want to die, or to witness absolute freedom and imagine your own self free.

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