Generally speaking we guard against letting ourselves become vulnerab le. Whether this is emotional , mental or physical vulnerability it is something we regard as a weakness in many ways. One that may leave us open to criticism, rejection, derision or physical harm.
Nevertheless it is impossible to avoid being vulnerable. It is part of what makes us human, without it we couldn’t fall in love, one of the most vulnerable emotional decisions we make. Soldiers would not obey orders and place themselves in danger, we would be afraid to try any new ventures just in case they were unsuccessful and we were seen to suffer the consequences. If we look at it this way we realise that to become vulnerable is quite a brave step to take and not at all one to despise.
Perhaps it is this aspect that keeps us glued to TV programmes in which people compete with one another, making themselves very vulnerable to a huge audience. One of the most compelling of these programmes is when people enter talent competitions, sharing what they consider to be their special gift. They do it hoping that the gain will overcome the pain and against all odds turn their dreams into reality.
As one peerformer after another faces rejection, humiliation or a gentle but definite ‘no thankyou’ we are left feeling sorry for most of them. For me there is one such occasion that I will never forget.
The woman preparing to sing her heart out was 47 years old and overweight. She strode on to the stage with a hand on her hip, no style, no polish. When questioned she had difficulty expressing herself. In fact she didn’t look the part at all, quite out of place among all the younger and vibrant young hopefuls usually in the show.
The judges looked almost embarrassed for her, the audience did not hide its scorn when she said that her ambition was to be a singer like Elaine Paige. As the camera zoomed around the theatre smirks were there for all to see and people were laughing at her. This woman had dared to be vulnerable and it looked as though she was going to be destroyed in the process.
The music started, the judges looked resigned to what was about to take place. And then she opened her mouth and sang the opening lines of her chosen song - ‘I dreamed a dream in times gone by.’ The laughter dropped away, the only sound was the golden voice of this brave lady. Before she had finished the audience were on their feet clapping and the judges looked confounded. Susan Boyle had proved that she had talent in abundance. She proved too that hasty judgements based on appearances can be unkind and very wrong. She won the talent contest and went on to become a star.
Susan has remained vulnerable in spite of all the unwanted media attention. She has chosen her own way of life. She lives in the same house, looks after her mother’s cat and still enjoys the simple life style that she had before fame came her way. She has warmed the hearts of people around the world as much by her obvious vulnerability as by the sheer pleasure of listening to her sing.
I often watch her first performance in Britain’s got Talent, it still stirs my spirit and gives me goose pimples. Her vulnerability has truly touched my heart. God bless you Susan.
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