What's your weakness? Not your temptation, mind you, the thing you give in to like chocolate or shiraz or or chick flicks. I mean the thing about you that is not as strong as it ought to be?
You can recognize your weakness if you are ashamed of showing it to people, if you organize your life to avoid it, if it frightens you. And one more thing, it reminds you of your mortality.
For me it is sleep. Almost forty years ago I had a case of crashing insomnia before heading out to college. It was certainly an expression of my worries about being up to the task, fear of failure, and all that.
Ever since, I have been afraid of being unable to sleep. And I am ashamed of this because it is a small thing compared to afflictions like disease and disability, and yet it has exerted disproportionate influence over my life choices. Fear of insomnia has kept me from staying up late regularly. As an aspiring musician in college this was a key part of leaving that path (That and not being both talented and obsessive enough to pursue it). Fear of insomnia kept me from making early morning appointments or commitments, so no power breakfasts for me.
Allowing it to shape my life so much is what makes it a weakness. What could be more pitiful, after all, than being unable to do what is as natural as breathing?
This last week I have had trouble sleeping. Nothing as awful as when I went to college. But it only takes one night of struggle to awaken the midnight dreads of long ago. Last night was the first time in four nights that I fell asleep easily and stayed there, mostly, for nearly seven hours.
I could go on about the spiritual and symbolic meanings of all this, but what matters right now is that everyone has something that makes them feel weak, pitiful, ashamed, and afraid. We spend vast amounts of our life hiding them and hiding from them. What if we could all be more frank about having them?
What if we could agree that everyone has a 'limp' of some kind and that this is no failure but a universal part of being human? How much better would life be if we all admitted this, accepted this, and even helped each other deal with them?
Maybe if we didn't have to hide our weaknesses so much we could all be a lot stronger.