Edging towards my 50th birthday, I have become captivated by the life stories of others, the tapestry of life events that have lead them to the place in which they inhabit. No single person reaches the mid-century mark without a few scars, myself included. Beyond the stories of joy, grief, heartbreak, strength, fear and scarcity one sees the consistent mark of resilience that ushers in a fierce strength. One way in which resilience can be expressed is in living an unguarded life, even after having been hurt many times over.
Being unguarded in practice is opening my heart and soul to a new life experience, exposing all that has shaped me through the years and doing so unafraid with eyes wide open. One might say this is foolhardy and that diving into life without hesitation is a recipe for disaster. This may be so, but for someone like myself, I am simply not capable of living completely on the edge. I abide by so many restrictions and rules of engagement that letting my guard down is not as extreme as it may sound.
The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
— Emily Dickinson
I claim ownership of a multitude of walls, one for each circumstance that gives me pause and it takes a great level of comfort for me to emerge from behind this wall without some level of apprehension. Even with this being true, I chose to continually strive to be unguarded in most instances. My level of comfort with this exposure may be entirely different from another and that is okay. The goal lies in the attempt to stretch, becoming more open and authentic no matter how uncomfortable it feels.
Why change my way of navigating this world at this point in life? The answer is simple. I do not wish to live in a state of constriction anymore. Just as a butterfly must emerge from its cocoon to fly, I too have a yearning to be free from all the self-imposed rules that I have lived by most of my life. The constant state of risk assessment, holding back when all I want to do is explode out of my shell and say “Here I am!” Living freely in this way will not quell the misgivings I have, but it will allow for more moments in which I chose to ignore these voices, let my guard down and experience things fully.
He who seeks happiness
By hurting those who seek happiness
Will never find happiness.
For your brother and sister are like you.
They want to be happy.
Never harm them.
And when you leave this life
You too will find happiness.
Being unguarded will sometimes result in painful new experiences and I accept that as a part of the process. Nothing worthwhile is easy, in fact it is often the most difficult way forward that is the path meant for me. Life is a terminal condition and if I am not learning something new about the world and myself each day, what am I doing? I have no interest in getting up in the morning only to have the same routine each and every day. While I do live a fairly structured life, I also thrive on new discoveries and experiences. The balance can be precarious at times, but at the same time exhilarating. Too much in one direction and I am no longer living in the balance.
Be unguarded, let your walls down. Trust that you are well protected and taken care of, embrace life with all of its wackiness and weirdness. Stop placing restrictions on yourself and learn to live in the space of joyful exuberance. Others may try to talk you back into your shell, fearful of what they see. These are not your fears, do not take what is not meant for you. Live as you chose with no apologies. At this point in life I have come to understand that the only way to allow my soul to fully experience life is to be as open, exposed and real as possible. Only in this way, will I continue to be the recipient of life energy in a complete and unadulterated way.