Vulnerability, Revisited

Three weeks ago, we were burglarized. My home is in a very safe area, in a very nice – but certainly not ritzy – neighborhood. We have an alarm system, but did not have it armed for the short time we were out to dinner. All that was taken was a 55 inch TV set, the 3 HDMI cables that “go” with it, and a wireless subwoofer. For some reason, they left the sound bar. The culprits smashed the glass in the French door of our walk-out basement, opened the luck, and gained access. One dirty footprint on the lowest stairs to our main level suggests to us that we may have interrupted them before they could get upstairs and continue their work. It’s quite a distance from our lower level door to the street, so the act seems especially brazen and reckless.

We were lucky – there was much more to take, and if we had been home . . . who knows what might have happened. It has led to our getting to know our neighbors better – we spread the word among the 5 or 6 houses near us, so they would be alert and less vulnerable. Like us, they were very complacent. In fact, since most of them had lived in this very safe neighborhood much longerburglar than we have, they were even more complacent. They didn’t change their behavior a bit, despite new construction nearby, and despite the fact that there is little standardization among the companies we’ve hired to mow our lawns and keep our grass looking nice – (for some reason, there are probably 6 different companies for every ten houses.)

While I may sound matter-of-fact as I write this, and I do realize it could have been so much worse, I’m surprised daily by the way it’s changed things. We are hyper vigilant, much more suspicious of strangers, dutiful about using the alarm system all the time, and a little sad. We look over at the console on which the TV stood thinking it has reappeared.

Today I learned we have poison ivy in an area of our landscape. Apparently, that’s just the way it is here, and people learn what it looks like, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it on their property. But I’m unduly troubled by it. I feel robbed of another aspect of my safety. None of this can compare, however, to my deep concern as I learn about tornado damage and loss from wildfires and other elements of nature. The extent of our vulnerability to attack – man-made or nature-made – makes me very uneasy.

Pete pointed out to me that I had commented on another experience of vulnerability in a January 11, 2013 post after having a gum graft. I had been laid low by the fact that I was at the absolute mercy of the periodontist and his assistant during the procedure. I diverted myself by reflecting on the absolute vulnerability of many students with disabilities. I had completely forgotten the earlier post. Now, upon reflection, I think it’s safe to say that feeling vulnerable pushes my buttons more than I even realized. I thrive on a sense of security .
But the burglary has pointed out to me that, while security is great, complacency is dangerous.

Here’s what I’m working on to take the place of my own former sense of complacency – developing as much kindness and caring for others that I can possibly muster. Here’s the connection: If outside sources can be cruel in so many ways, doesn’t it behoove us to avoid adding to that cruelty to the extent we possibly can? Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to feel completely safe, secure and invincible again. But I don’t think that will be the case. I’ll be OK with that, though, if the void that’s been left by the gap in those feelings is filled with an active love for others and their situations. Do I sound like “Pollyanna,” just a little too “silver lining” under circumstances that would have, in the past, made me paranoid? Well, as I said, I’m working on this point of view – I’m a control freak, after all, and at least this more positive approach allows me to be in control of my own life, to some degree.

Posted on June 3, 2014, in Modern Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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