Vulnerable? Nah just out in the open

Vulnerability refers to the inability to withstand the effects of a hostile environment.
Vulnerability (the good side), though poorly perceived, actually cements relationships in the face of hardships. By accepting this character trait, one becomes aware of one’s limitations and resources.

Star Trek: Enterprise S2 Ep6: Marauders
Ted Talks: Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability:

Vulnerable? Nah just out in the open

I spent much of my early childhood, as I remember it, bewildered. I was loved, there is no doubt of that, but I was difficult. I had my fixations, my obsessions, certain songs completely overwhelmed me. I loved Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley as well as Que Sera, Sera sung by Doris Day and Lita Rosa’s How much is That Doggie in the Window. I listened to the radio whenever I could. I loved to swim, then and only then I was alone.

I was raised in India so I lived in a noisy, crowded society. I remember the markets, the smells of spices, the hot curry’s, and most of all I remember Joseph, one of many people who looked after us. There were cooks, cleaners, nanny’s, drivers and laundry women. There was Joseph a tall man who held me tight when I had a tantrum. Joseph and my Ayah, my nanny if you like, listened, cleaned up after me, scolded me and laughed as I my eyes popped and I sweated after eating hot, hot curries. The more I gasped the more they laughed and the more I ate, to watch them smile. I still love hot, hot curries. I didn’t know the meaning of vulnerability as a child, little Memsab.

I had a tantrum when the guards at a gate wouldn’t let my Ayah accompany me to the swimming pool she had to wait outside, so I refused to go in. It didn’t have one iota of an effect on the general racism of the day but for a nanosecond I saw something wasn’t right, something wasn’t as I wanted it to be, something was really peculiar. Ayah, was my companion, and during that incident I remember her face, she was ashamed of me having a tantrum, maybe, but it was mixed with a resignation that I couldn’t understand at the time, and that, as I remember it, didn’t help my temper.

My parents decided to leave India and we boarded a liner to sail to Australia, The Strath Moore. I had no idea really what was happening and as the liner pulled away from the dock I saw all the people I love disappear, getting smaller and smaller. Joseph was waving frantically and pulling at his shirt, he looked distraught. My father standing beside me said, “He’s lost his shirts.” A butler, and that’s what he was, sort of, without a white shirt. I had a tingling of, a tiny sense of, his vulnerability. Shirt equalled job, no shirts, no work…All my young life I’d seen people starving on the streets, wan women begging with, tinier then they had any right to be, babies at their breasts. I knew that India was a cruel and exotic society. I felt for Joseph’s vulnerability, I really loved him.

In Australia, for the first time I was at the mercy of my middle class parents, what a lonely few years that was and as I progressed to adolescence I was alone, with words, books, music. In an culturally conservative and repressed society that was only just discovering self expression, anti-war sentiments and FJ Holdens.

The Beatles (She Loves You), Paul and Paula (Hey Paula) and The Four Seasons (Big Girls Don’t Cry) crackled from transistor radios. In fact at about this time I won a drawing competition. I won “A Hard Days Night” the Beatles LP from the TV Week. My drawing was published, my celebrity moment, I had it young.

In the 70’s Countdown, Molly Meldrum and Auntie Jack drove the cultural train and the Koorie Flag flew over Redfern. In this cultural context I swam on, mostly alone, feeling that vulnerability of the young, “Whaaatttt the f………. is really going on here? It gets covered up, swamped by anger, self righteousness. I learnt that an angry person is really, at heart, feeling vulnerable. I learnt to be safe being vulnerable as an artist. I learnt that emotional vulnerability can nearly kill you but I kept putting my foot back in the door of experience and love.

Love, death, birth, divorce, betrayal, marriage I’ve been there, done that and I am still vulnerable. I still seek out that trembling feeling as a shaft of light pierces my soul, and a barb of music exposes the meat of my spirit. Others’ suffering makes me feel compassion and then I touch my own powerlessness and anger. My suffering makes me shrink and then re engage with life with new insights. Vulnerability is a creative force that brings the arrogant to their knees on their road to Damascus.

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