NaBloPoMo Entry 1: Tell us your favourite quotation and why?

November 1, 2012 in Afterhours, Intern Guide, Introduction, London Living, NaBloPoMo, Networking, Personal, Technology

‘Strong animals know when your hearts are weak’

– Hushpuppy, Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012)


Words have a profound effect upon me; I can be sat on a crowded subway train, catch a fleeting glimpse of a phrase on a station advert, and have goosepimples for the rest of the journey. They can ruin my day, or lift me up in a moment of need.

Thing is, I tend to get them wrong. My interpretations of such verbiage, particularly those which mean the most to me, are often later revealed to be misconstrued and misinterpreted; as was the case with my latest literary scavenge – you may agree with my interpretation, or take from it your own.

Taken from Benh Zeitlin’s beautiful debut feature ‘Beasts of the Souther Wild’, this ambiguous line is spoken by a six-year-old African-American girl named Hushpuppy (a stunningly committed performance from newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, I might add) during apocalyptic events set at the time of Katrina – though fittingly reminiscent of recent weather crises, as well as the potential catastrophic effects of climate change in the future.

At an incredibly emotional point in the film, this utterance jerked me into a state of clarity; it spoke to me of the true strength of character required to admit vulnerability. That in order to be a ‘strong beast’ (interpreting this as inner strength) you must first learn to open yourself to the world around you.

Something which, I admit, I do not find comes easily to me. The importance of vulnerability is one which I’ve only recently began to discover. In the past, I have been quick to see vulnerability as a weakness; a state of exposure which opens one up to manipulation and hurt, and only for those with too little backbone themselves to remain stoical and secure.

Here’s the caveat: The practice of opening to vulnerability is not for wimps – quite the opposite, in fact. It requires inner strength, discernment and clear boundaries.

In fact, the strongest and happiest people I’ve ever met are those who are comfortable in their vulnerability, who leave themselves open to all emotions and experiences which life throws at them, and do not shrink in fear from them as I so often do.

The state and strength of vulnerability does not mean taking stupid risks; it involves strong boundaries and a take-no-prisoners attitude toward challenging situations. It involves cultivating compassion for others, and opening yourself to empathy. It involves giving help when it’s needed, and asking for it when you’re in need.

At some point, most of us are forced to reclaim our vulnerability; whether we want to or not. It seems to me, if you don’t choose to consciously reconnect with your vulnerability, it will eventually come around from behind and wreak far greater damage than it might have if you faced it head on and took control of your own emotions and the situation. But when you allow yourself to consciously enter the state of vulnerability, you find that at its heart is peace; a self-confidence and self respect that can quietly turn your life on its head.

I still have a long way to go, but I will always keep with me that ‘a strong beast knows when your heart is weak‘.