Last week I got a brief taste of the John Muir Trail - a 211 mile hike that winds through the Sierra Nevada and some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever see, starting in Yosemite Valley and ending at Mount Whitney. It was also my first taste of “real” camping i.e. no facilities whatsoever - purifying our own water from the river and digging holes for our poop. For this rather proper English girl it was all a bit real and I was very nervous about it ahead of time. What made it even more nerve-wracking was that my boyfriend would be coming too and the thought of him witnessing the toilet arrangements and also just being with me for 48 hours in the heat with no shower, no hair tongs and no make-up felt a little more vulnerable than I was comfortable with. The night before the trip I hardly slept, and then we were on our way. The scenery was breathtaking and the camping spot was like something out of any number of Hollywood movies - in the middle of the forest, next to a rushing river. The mosquitoes were plentiful . . . . Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was an incredible experience. Stripping life back to the essentials of how am I going to drink, eat and sleep reminded me how far away most of us are from the actual experience of living on a moment to moment basis, and being out in all that vibrant nature made me feel so connected to the world around me. And the whole boyfriend thing, no problem! All was great and just strengthened our connection.
I have learned a lot about vulnerability and connection over the last 18 months. A marriage break-up puts you in a vulnerable place. Having a major operation puts you in a vulnerable place. We are taught that vulnerability equals weakness but what I have learnt is that if we own our vulnerability, get really honest about it and ask for help, vulnerability can bring incredible connection to others. It is in our hardest times that we forge the greatest bonds. We come together in adversity. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak - it makes you strong. Strong enough to face your fears, your vulnerability and strong enough to trust that if you ask for help it will be received and answered in the right way. Once you have been through this cycle once or twice you begin to feel really strong and really connected to your fellow humans. In getting comfortable with vulnerability we are also teaching our children that it is okay to be vulnerable and therefore okay to take a risk - it is impossible to try something new without becoming vulnerable. Even in business vulnerability has its place. There can be no really effective collaboration without trust, and no real trust without vulnerability.
I will definitely go camping again - next time with better mosquito protection though. I came away with over 50 “little souvenirs” - that kind of vulnerability and connection I can live without!
Is there a relationship in your life that would benefit from your showing more vulnerability?
How could vulnerability strengthen connection for you?
Wishing you love and fulfillment,