When we face the world with an honesty about our feelings and thoughts, we stand to meet some resistance from others and become vulnerable. Though we may gain the respect of some, we may also open ourselves up to the scrutiny of a dubious populace.
Vulnerability for some means that it is a sign of weakness, but others may argue that it is a sign of strength; because we have the courage to engage others about our beliefs and perceptions despite peer derision. We let others know of our attitudes because while we share these sensibilities that may become challenged, we stand secure enough to enlist these thoughts. The origins of the human condition defining what makes us strong and what makes us weak emerges far back in antiquity in the birth of legend.
In Greek myth, Achilles was a powerful hero in Homer’s Iliad, and undoubtedly the greatest warrior on the battlefield at Troy. In his youth, he had been a pupil of Chiron.
When Achilles was just an infant, his mother immersed him in the river Styx, which separates the land of the living from the land of the dead, to confer on him immortality, and to make him invincible in battle. But when doing this, she committed a grave error. Through her oversight and negligence, she held Achilles by his left heel when immersing him in the river Styx, and forgot to immerse his heel as well.
And so, in spite of his great power and strength, and unsurpassed skill and prowess in battle, Achilles remained with one weak or vulnerable spot, his left heel, which was ultimately to prove fatal. In the last battle of the Trojan War, as Troy was being sacked and burned by marauding Greek soldiers, Achilles was shot in his left heel with a poisoned arrow, which finally killed him.
We all have our weak or vulnerable areas, our Achilles’ heels. Even someone who may outwardly appear to be all-powerful, or even invincible, isn’t without a weak spot, or Achilles’ heel.
I do not compare our vulnerabilities with this Greek myth, but it does outline what many people believe about our condition and conditioning. To be fearless on many fronts includes our own identification with what our vulnerabilities mean to us. How we negotiate our discordant social factions may lend us to a spiritual armor as opposed to a perceived “Achilles Heel”.
We may venture forth and learn from our activity with others directly, without cowering and hiding behind our shields of safety before we act. That is to say we should not become brash fools and spontaneously act without some tenor of reason. Rather, a truthful presentation of what we stand for can be a fresh and welcoming personage.
I often write about subjects that may disenfranchise some, as I hope not to offend anyone. I would alternatively like to inspire, and disclose intimacies that can convey to others a point of view that can mend similar discomforts and narratives and hope they will induce intriguing thought.
I once joked to my friends that I wrote like an existentialist “John-Boy Walton”, the fictional character written by Earl Hamner. As A young man growing up in Schuyler Virginia, Earl Hamner dreamed of becoming a writer. He felt a wish, perhaps a need, to put to paper his feelings and experiences living in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the Depression. His life became the basis for John-Boy, the central character of The Walton’s. The basis for writing in the John-boy character is founded on one central principle: write what you know about! I have respect for Earl Hamner, and can learn a great deal from his narratives. I can only hope to write as well and as passionately as he advocated.
“To invest into a memory that will only take you down a road that cannot be traveled is futile and counter-productive. It takes us away from the here and now, and it only impedes our well-being when we give nostalgic cadence to this venture.”
― DC Gunnersen
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