"Seems like vulnerability has been a stalking theme in my life as of lately. Whether it's the uncomfortable consumption of it stemming from the pit of your hips or the subtle feeling where you can sense that someone is really struggling with it. And when I say struggle, it's never quite straight forward. You catch them in between a laugh, that split second, when their face loses all composure.
And that one time I went to a bar with an Aussie Saxophone player and he told me he had a girlfriend..."
Seems like vulnerability has been a stalking theme in my life as of lately. Whether it's the uncomfortable consumption of it stemming from the pit of your hips or the subtle feeling where you can sense that someone is really struggling with it. And when I say struggle, it's never quite straight forward. You catch them in between a laugh, that split second, when their face loses all composure. That moment when they start talking about their father and by all means, swear that they are as "open as a book" and then proceed to tell you - "yeah, I learned a lot from it" but you feel their pain behind that sentence. Like a quick jab in between the rib cage, too quick to digest away. They are in the journey of forgiveness and self-enlightenment. They want to talk about yet not at all. You can tell that they are really struggling to open up. I mean, aren't we all?
What's worse is sometimes, we can't even be vulnerable to ourselves. In a culture when independence and strength are diabolical to emotions and vulnerability, I can understand why we all feel like we can never open up. It's easier to just keep yourself distracted, find a new guy, take another shot, dance it away, eat it all up. The funny thing about vulnerability is that it will always sneak back in when you expect it least.
I will never forget - On a Wednesday evening, I was walking out from a Jazz show at The McKittrick Hotel which I went to the night before as well. They are just that good (they're also good friends of mine). Following closely behind me as I exited was an older Australian saxophone player that was one of their special guest for the evening. His accent and nonchalant atmosphere intrigued me. At 3am, we decided to grab a drink. I'll tell you several reasons why this was potentially the wrong thing to do -
1. It's 3am.2. I lived in NJ.3. I had class the next day (I was still in college).4. Who the hell is this guy? He can kill me!
And naturally, the high from great music, my alcohol infused veins, and good company made none of those practical factors matter. What mattered was that I didn't want the night to end and I wanted to know more about this gentleman. So we went to a Irish pub on the upper west side. We spoke for hours about things I can't fully recall today. What I do remember was how deep and intimate our conversation was over warm beer. The climax of our conversation was when he mentioned that he had a girlfriend. This didn't stop us from probing. From learning and teaching one another. About things we were not sure of, yet. I asked him how he felt. How beautiful she must be and supportive, especially in his line of work as a traveling musician. Then he confessed to me - "I can't be committed to anyone. I am married to my music and my lifestyle." He actually was beginning to realize that he was built as a loner, a nomad, and attached to only music. This hit right at home for me because sometimes I felt like I was destined to sacrifice love. Some months that feeling is stronger and others, not so much. I needed to know more. I needed someone to explain to me why I felt that way, too. What I got from this encounter was actually the opposite. He couldn't explain to me why I felt that way. He taught me that I am actually not like him. I don't want to be. He is beautiful by all means - brave, passionate, and a child of the world. But his path is not mine. I walked away from him (I've never seen him again after that evening) with a whole new level of enlightenment. We were two strangers who had nothing to lose that night. We laid out our insecurities over beer and I am a better person from it. I still have no idea what love means to me but I am just that much closer.
I think we can all relate to those moments and the feelings of vulnerability. It's so human. It's so beautiful. I encourage you to all let that vulnerability out. Keep an open heart and those who are searching will find you, too, and you will help each other figure it out whether you expect it or not.