no longer immune

Posted on June 19, 2009


No longer immune

What has happened to the barrier?

What has happened to the cushion?

What has happened to the front, the façade, the mask I used to don so quickly, so conveniently, so comfortably?The-mask

I used to answer the question, “how are you?” with “fine” . . . and really mean it.

But now I’m . . .

No longer immune.

Every breeze slams the thin skin of my heart with startling impact.

“Tenderness comes from pain.” The lyrics of this Sade song sends echoes through my whole being. I feel everything, deeply, extremely, painfully, joyfully, relentlessly.

What happened to “comfortably numb”? That comfortable numbness of living above the ground, in the clouds, removed from the toughness of life, isolated from the sorrow of others. Out of sight, out of mind, they say. And it works. We turn away and it no longer exists.

What no longer exists? Who have we turned away from? What have we lost in turning away from life, from people, from the raw reality that surrounds us?

Insulated, isolated, immune.

Then the gold is taken through the fire.

The dross of insulation, isolation, immunity is burned off as we are no longer able to turn away. That comfortable numbness can no longer be found.

I used to be strong. By strength, I meant insulated, isolated, and immune. Hidden away.

Now, in my weakness, I am strong. I can feel all of life. I can feel with full compassion and empathy.

No more hiding. No more protecting myself from life. Fully human, fully alive.


What is it that you were given?

I mean from the loss.

After, what was taken.

That very thing you could never

live without.

The person or place;

the secret, or circumstance—

now that it is gone,

or has been found out,

and you can no longer call it foundation,

What is it that you were given?

You know, and I know, this:

There is a hollowing out.

Something comes and opens you up





and from that moment on

you are no longer immune to this world.

You wake, you wander,

every familiar, now a foreign.

You walk as through water

until you make it back to your bed

and finally, even there—

your sheets; your own pillow’s scent different,

as if daily someone repaints your room, displaces something,

disturbs a cherished memento.

You see,

sometimes we are emptied.

We are emptied


Life wants us to know





–What is It That You Were Given?  by Em Claire © 2006