I watch the far shore disappear behind the rain. It’s a little warmer this afternoon although it was a mere 5 degrees earlier. Going out to collect the wood required a few warm layers, but the burner is strong and cheery and lights like a firework every time I spin a match. I don’t mind the cold, nor the crazy west coastal weather. I am well used to it and still wear my frocks, my legs bare, my boots sheepskin lined. I walk in the early hours when most others are making tea or accepting a warm cup from a proffered and loving hand. When we get warm here, we get rain, and an islander or someone who knows this place well through regular visits, accepts and accepts again. I remember a visit to Iceland where the cold is frightening unless you have sheepskin knickers, or, as nowadays, thermals. I am pre thermals. I also have never worn sheepskin knickers but that is by the way. And Iceland is so beautiful.
I see the birds shelter and then flit when there is a wee break in the rain. I watch them, think I want to live this way and then remind myself that I already do. For long years I have dived out into such a break, grabbing with open arms the light and the bright of it and, sometimes caught on the other side. Sometimes. But not often. I have rarely found myself right out there in among the ancient rocks, the wild open space, and realised my poor timing, my poor understanding of how Nature works. Perhaps, I tell myself, after 43 years of living this wild place, of breathing in her breath, of hearing her voice, I am able to notice her offerings of sudden space to live, to really get out there into a language I am only just learning to speak. Sometimes I will say, let’s go, but by the time the ‘let’s go’ team have coated and booted up, the clouds are downing once more, the wind rising, the weather talking, saying, uhh, too late mate. Maybe this is why and this is how I am beginning to love being alone, because a wee Poppy dog needs no coating or booting. She just needs a wheech off her resting place, a touch that tells her something is afoot and that something is us and right now. It thinks me.
Being vulnerable is a very present thing. I know that being vulnerable can be seen as a weakness. What? There is nothing wrong with me. I am fine thank you. And, sadly, I am happy (not) to be seen as doing ok. When I am not. There is a distinct lack of congruence here, of authenticity and yet we persist in keeping the game going. Well, not me. I know who I am and I know my vulnerability. I know where I am weak and where I am super strong. I know that my mind, the dizziest broad you will ever meet is a part of me. I know I have black spells, I know shame and I know regret. I know I am a woman, long lived who still fights demons, her own, and I know how consuming they can be, given space enough to develop.
The hills that disappear when rain sheets them over are vulnerable. Are they really there when I can see nothing of them? The birds, the wildlife are vulnerable when unexpected cold continues as they work to fledge their young. I see young birds, tails short, flight a whole new thing to them and sorely compromised under sheets of rain, lift and fall, moving just a few feet to land again, puffing like bellows. The trees that trusted the early warmth are pushing out blossoms, only to find petals at their feet. They are vulnerable too, for without the bees and other flighty things, they risk their future. And, yet, it is how it is, how it always was and how it will be again. This is vulnerable living and we are all in this living thingy. Together.
Unlike the trees, birds and insects, we have an intelligent choice. To seek help. I get that it is super difficult to reach out to someone who has the experience we lack. The internet is full of quacks and crooks. But, if you want to heal then I say Keep Looking, because every single one of us knows how it feels at any age or stage to be sick of being sick. I am one. Aged 68, a grandmother, a woman of great experience, a woman who has gone through many hurdles. I like saying I am vulnerable because I always want to learn a better way for me. There is one out there and I know it. There are many of us, particularly now, who seek help, who want change. But, first off, we must admit we are vulnerable to whatever haunts us. There is talk of Mental Awareness as if it was a new thing. I scoff. It has always been a ‘thing’, but only now is it noticed. I hate the label. I hate all labels. But, if it is, at the least, being accepted as something that will eventually become accepted then I can go with it. I had a dad who came back from the war with obvious issues that he ignored, pushed down and which only came out in anger and excess. He was a wonderful man but broken and not least because being vulnerable and admitting ‘fault lines’ was not acceptable. Now things are different and yet not. Still the question comes. So, what is wrong? Well, nothing and everything and where does anyone start with that almost judgmental question? I never got it and always reverted to silence.
So, I will continue to be vulnerable, and yes, I know it is easier for women #flakes to speak out. For men even now it takes balls (sorry) to admit such a thing. But it is key and there are going to be young men out there who will fly the flag, who will push through the What is Wrong nonsense and who will broad the walk for those to come. Because we all know it. All of us. At some time in our lives.