We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are for forever.
We don’t like to think about it, but deep down we know that any number things can happen to us or to those we love, that can bring us to our knees and our life as we know it to an end. It is usually something painful that occasions this kind of reaction, but even if it’s “a newfound love,” there can still be a difficult undoing of the person we’ve known our self to be.
Poet and author Samuel Decker Thompson refers to our vulnerability to life’s often unpredictable and unwanted occurrences as being “beautifully fragile.” This is not an easy-on-the-eye or heart beauty, for it doesn’t feel very beautiful when our life is upended. It isn’t very appealing to live on the tender edge of anguish. It’s anything but attractive to know we are a breath away from a broken heart. But if we step back from the fear of being wounded by unexpected events, we may sense that it is only because we love that we are capable of being hurt, and that it is usually though pain that we are beckoned to become “a completely different person,” one who is compassionate, who values living in the moment, and who realizes that the true priority in life is our relationships with one another.
Another element of fragility’s veiled and paradoxical beauty has to do with the fact that it is a thread connecting us to each other, no matter what our differences – rich and poor, believer and atheist, Caucasian and colorful, etc. We are all adrift in the same boat. We are all susceptible to the heartache that accompanies loss. We are all powerless to prevent the harsh realities that can and do touch ourselves and those we care about. We are all a mere moment away from being altered for forever. There is a beauty even in the most difficult truths, and the truth is that we are fragile together.