Saturday, April 23, 2011

On vulnerability

I've been listening to Adele's new album, 21.

Her voice is the most gorgeous thing I have ever heard.

I love Adele. She's young, ambitious, and (I'll say it again) has an incredible voice. Also, she recently told Rolling Stone, "I don't make music for eyes. I make music for ears."

So much win in those words.

Until recently though, I took issue with most of her lyrics. It bothered me that someone as strong and beautiful as Adele was on her knees in so many songs, most of which, she has told the public, were inspired by a bad breakup.

But then I started thinking about my own writing habits. And I came across a note I made to myself in January of 2009:

I don't know why I'm so opposed to sounding vulnerable in a poem when I know that I'm the narrator. Like, if I take on the voice of someone else, I have no problem with sounding vulnerable. But when I know it's me narrating, I can't. I have to be a super strong feminist allthefreakingtime. So. My new goal is to write a poem in which I, as narrator, expose my vulnerability.

I never wrote it.

Last night I was out at a bar with a friend from high school. And I ran into someone I met at SVSU, of all places. This particular person was once a very close friend of mine, but we aren't really in touch anymore for a lot of complicated reasons. There is a lot of pain connected to my friendship with her. So it hurt to see her again, and brought to the surface a lot of emotions I didn't exactly want to deal with.

So I look at Adele, who confronts her pain, and I have to admire that. It takes strength to admit that you've been betrayed, because in doing so, you admit that you trusted someone you perhaps should not have.

That's something I struggle with because if you admit all of that to yourself, you then have to acknowledge the fact that some people do some pretty hurtful shit. And it's hard to accept that if your entire philosophy is built around loving everyone.

I own a copy of Ani DiFranco's album Canon. And between two uncharacteristically sad songs, she says:

And so now like, it's so funny like, all the righteous babes--well, not all of 'em, just a few who have got their panties on a little too tight--they're all up in a twitch because they're like, "Oh, well, you fucking wench, just writing about like, love n' shit. What happened to your politics? What are you just gonna sell out? Is this a conscious move away from overly political songwriting?" And I'm like, "No man. It's just. I got kind of... distracted."

Distraction then, is good. And necessary. You can't be strong if you merely bury your weaknesses/vulnerabilities. Because then they will inevitably turn up out of the blue and join you for a drink right before final exams.

Much as I've been trying to deny it all this time, the truth is that (as Adele puts it), "Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."

Guess I'm off to write some poems about the times when "it hurt instead."

1 comment:

  1. I love your thoughts in this post! Seeing vulnerability as a valuable thing -- or even just an ok thing -- is something I've struggled with, too. Ironically, I think that often if I allow myself to be vulnerable, I actually feel stronger.