Our Shared Vulnerabilities

One cold night, a night I had been feeling particularly lonely, I walked into a bookstore.

A hip fellow from a hip city was reading from his new book. He was cultured, opinionated. And as I sat with all these people on folding chairs and the cold creeping in under the door, my loneliness grew.

Then the man started taking questions. I can’t remember the first one. But the man, this modern and sure man, said, You know, I struggle with a lot of self-doubt.

And I felt like someone had just brought me in out of the cold.

Then he was talking about failure, hiding parts of himself, that the reason he wrote was for connection. And audience members were nodding, leaning towards him. And I bet they were feeling something like what I was feeling.

Which was: You too? I thought I was the only one.

And there we were, warmed on this cold night. Because a man risked honesty about his hidden agonies. And all the souls with all their hidden agonies, nodded, leaned in, and felt that rare kinship of shared vulnerability.

So what Grace Paley said really is true: Sometimes you find that what is most personal is also what connects you most strongly with others.

And when we are lucky enough to find that connection, or brave enough to create it, it’s like coming into warmth on a cold night.

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