Listen now | Lessons from the Turtle and the Octopus
Like you Andrea, illness has absolutely increased my capacity for joy and compassion. I think folks who experience chronic illness and life challenges are some of the kindest I've ever met. I can remember days where I genuinely thought I would never find joy again - it was totally buried underneath so much grief and pain. Lately I've been finding laughter again and it feels so fresh, so precious, so much richer and brighter than ever before. I feel like my willingness to feel (without numbing) painful things is rewarded by also being able to feel joyful things. Now when I feel joy, I fully lean into it.. and I love that
illness has absolutely transformed me, increasing my capacity for love, empathy, joy, presence, gratitude, grace....
I'm coming here to strongly recommend you read (or listen to) Remarkably Bright Creatures. It features an octopus as one of the main characters AND is a stunning exploration of vulnerability.
I swing from breathing with your posts and admiring the octopus to shutting down against the starvation facing millions of people all over the world and the insanity of ego driven politics that have turned this country upside down. I keep grasping outside of my shell for my starfish, the one that reminds me to do what I can for the few I may help. Your reminders of how to be a human, if I can not be an octopus is truly a help. Thank you.
I'm a never-ending pokemon evolution series, it seems. You think I'm done, I think I'M done, but neither of us has yet to see my Final Form. ;) Chronic illness kicks butt, Eating School kicks butt, and both really slam you flat and steamroll you until you don't have a choice: it's be vulnerable. There is no or.
I have evolved due to my multiple brain surgeries and my eating school (ed treatment for the unfamiliar) experiences. You gotta feel to heal. It's the only way to grow. Look at trees, look at puberty, it all hurts! Growing pains, y'all. It's the same for emotional and mental growth too, not just physical.
Like others here, and you, my experiences of surviving violence and, now, living with chronic pain have deepened and expanded my capacity for compassion. I'm also learning how to appreciate the joy and wonder of everyday moments. (And, now, I need to go learn more about octopuses.)
You are a bright light in the dark!!! Thank you for everything you put out there in the world!!! 💗
I’ve had illness in the form or heart surgery thirteen years ago, watched my wife go through breast cancer in 2019, watched my mother in law die of covid when it wasn’t even identified as a disease. I think you’re very strong and your joy is infectious. How you’re able to lift other people up while going through the most difficult times in your life is beyond me, but you still manage to rise up and seize every opportunity to live and show us how to live by example. You wrote in my copy of your book “You’d better be lightening,” this: “Taylor said you needed this. I did and I do still need your words.
This is such a beautiful observation and thought process. It also is sad to see extrapolate and see in our world how the most abused have been forced to become the strongest, gentlest, and most resilient. But I would rather be growing than anything else. I’m a visibly gender queer person, and I’m scared in a lot of situations, and I’m really scared for trans youth these days, but also amazed at their refusal to be anyone but themselves, and their refusal to be unseen. May they all be blessed with 9 brains and light sensing skin!
Heartbreak. I never understood the tea bag sized Rumi quote about "the wound is the place where the light enters you". That was until the cracked pieces of my soul were reassembled by those who saw them for what they were, beautiful regardless of their functional status. That without allowing that sight to be seen, I may not have ever known how deep love can reside. I hope for nothing more than to keep learning just how deep we can go. There is always so much more...
Thank you for your beautiful perspective, thank you for your vulnerability.
Perfectly said. It isn't easy to be vulnerable. Takes a lot of courage, which you clearly have in spades. So glad I found you and your words. Thanks for this.
I follow several wildlife scientists on YouTube and tonight ran across this from one particular young scientist I adore but you may not be able to handle. So I found the exact clip they had to say about octopusses https://youtu.be/qKv0STHERSQ BUT only watch 5:57 to 7.21 for octopus info. This guy is awesome in pointing out human stupidity with wildlife, but it might be too graphic for some.
Leaning into the reflections of not being alone in here.. of not just being one part of infinity, but also being infinity.. of not just being unconditionally loved, but also being unconditional love.
Co(s)mically.. that is to say, both 'comically' and 'cosmically'.. I have felt so very alone within these (s)paces. At least until I look into my sweetheart's eyes, and I can feel the harmonies of the reflections between us.. unconditional love being unconditionally loved.. opening wholly to the vulnerability of not being alone out there.
Thank you for your sweet nudges to reflect with(in) us all <3
Tricky slope to navigate. As a woman I was raised with no boundaries and self sacrifice expected. Somewhere over the rainbow there is a happy balance...
Funny you should ask. I am doing an assignment that requires me to write a story about the way I am now and how that is a strength which was viewed as a weakness in the past. So your email today related directly to what I am working on. But I am struggling to see how my being vulnerable today relates to a time in my past when it was perhaps off-putting. Oversharing perhaps, getting the heart of things with people could be off-putting (real talk vs chit chat), not trying to be a guru or have a hero's journey because I am in the thick of it with everyone else...but my past memories are hard to reach. I am commenting to share how much I resonated with your email as I try to connect the dots for myself.
I came to vulnerability through defiance.
It's been a long process rooted in the death of my younger brother and a series of personal blows over nearly a decade following that. I didn't handle it well. I walled up. In every way. I grew rigid and disconnected.
Then one day, the wall began to crumble for no other reason that I can discern than because I was fed up with feeling nothing. I wanted to stop being afraid of falling apart. Stop being afraid of myself and my own emotions. Stop being a hollow husk. I wanted to stop feeling like a victim. I wanted the strength to embrace rather than defeat.
Now, when grief, loss, anger and heart ache hit me the hardest, there is a moment, a split second, during which it briefly feels like I am playing a game of 'Chicken' with myself. Daring myself. Wall or vulnerability.
It becomes a deliberate choice to unclench and let down all my guards. An act of trust that I have already broken and put myself back together. I can do it again. Like kintsugi bowls, my scars are the whole point.
Vulnerability is empowering. Humbling. Gracious. I shift. And I feel my whole world shift with me. I can choose.
Vulnerability is defiance. The refusal to survive by means and ways that take me away from myself.