Voluptuous Vulnerability

A good friend of mine recently gave me a book called “The Point of Vanishing” by Howard Axelrod. Its Axelrod’s story – a Harvard junior who, while playing a pick-up game of basketball, ends up being permanently blinded in one eye. Upon returning from the hospital, he literally sees everything differently and desperate for a sense of orientation, he retreats to live isolated and off-the-grid in Vermont for two years.

The story is fascinating in a slow-motion kind of and towards the very end, the beautifully written passage below caught my attention. Axelrod has just nearly frozen to death in a winter field but, against all odds, he manages to get himself back to the house and into the shower.

“The shaking slowed down, and I felt impossibly lighter, fatigued, almost nothing but bones. I stood up in the shower, made the water hotter. Feeling was coming back to my feet, in my hands. My blood was running like it hadn’t for a long time. The vulnerability, the openness, was almost voluptuous. I’d always assumed returning (i.e. leaving seclusion) would only be possible under two circumstances – the first was that I no longer needed human love at all, all the love I needed carried inside of me, and the second was that I’d failed miserably and had to return as some broken down version of the boy I’d been. But there was a third way – to return simply as what I was: a twenty-seven-year-old man, flawed, limited, who was ready to wrestle with his instinct for love, with how vulnerable it would make him. Knowing that no orientation in the world, for anyone, could ever be permanent. Knowing that how I saw would always be changing, depending on who I loved and what I feared.”

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