The oxymoron of strength

I have been thinking a lot about strength, true strength, and what it means to be a strong person. It seems like strength is often equated with being tough, We’re taught to “toughen up;” to harden ourselves when we’re teased, to shake it off when we’re hurt. And strength then becomes equated with not showing weakness–weakness of course being tears. Cracks.

Weakness, then, is associated with hurt feelings. With saying “ouch.” With showing that something hurt. 

Gradually we lock these things away, or we’re told to lock these things away, or maybe I am the only person who somehow took from life and the messages around me that I was supposed to toughen up or shake it off and to not let things get to me.

But me,

I….am emotional. I just am. I have been for 26 years. And you know what? Things get to me.

And although I’ve been living, I’ve also been watching, observing, thinking, feeling,asking, knowing, and one of the things I’ve realized is how strong a person you have to be in order to make it through life and remain sensitive.

You have to be ferocious to make it through life as a sensitive person, because you will encounter a lot of life experiences and you will have no clue how to handle some of the things you encounter and it will seem like the easiest way to stop the hurt and prevent future hurt is to go numb and close yourself off.

Well I don’t know what my deal is, maybe it’s my artistic temperment, because I have tried to go numb over and over but I just can’t stop feeling. And then I read something Osho wrote, which was that in the dichotomy of life and death, feeling–sensitivity–is alive. Numb is how you deaden yourself. It takes a supremely sensitive person to experience the wonder of every moment, and when you’re experiencing the wonder of every moment you’re not just breathing. You’re living.

But it’s hard, because when you’re sensitive you feel, and (for a while at least, until you achieve mastery [he says]) those feelings include pain.

And this is where people get lost, because pain sucks and is hard. People don’t generally want to walk through hot coals–they walk around hot coals. Or else they scuff up the bottoms of their feet to the point where they’re deadened with calluses and dirt and whatnot–then they give this seeming show of strength, but they’ve destroyed their mode of transport through life in the process. And then reviving them is even more painful.

It takes truly rare, truly enlightened person to experience those coals, to embrace them, and to eventually transcend them. It is achieving the impossible. And only the strongest of the strong achieve the impossible.


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