“…Let Me be Vulnerable.”

*Sherlock Se. 2 Ep. 1 Spoiler Warning*

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

—C.S. Lewis, from The Four Loves

It’s a bit late to talk about love, especially since Valentine’s Day was yesterday. It’s February 15 today, but it’s honestly never too late to think. Or reflect. Or ponder and philosophize. Perhaps too late to celebrate, but not to think.

I’ve been giving love a lot of thought lately. By love, I mean the broad spectrum of different kinds of affection like parental love, brotherly love, sisterly love, love in friendship, romantic love, and communal love. Any kind of mutuality or affection between two people—whether it’s a romantic relationship or not—is love.

Love is something I’ve taken the time to philosophize over lately because of what I’ve seen happening in my own life.

Tell your beating hearts to be still, my lovely readers. I can answer “no” to the boyfriend question. 🙂

It’s just that in my daily adventures I come across so many people. When I take the time to think about every single person I meet, I end up getting a headache. I just meet so many new people all the time, and I very easily form bonds with people, even if I’ve only known them for a few hours.

Then I started thinking about how trusting love is. To love anyone is to give them your heart. To love anyone is to entrust them with a valuable gift: your love. To love anyone is to take a risk. It’s vulnerable to love and be loved.

It’s a risk.

Because of what you feel for the other person—whether it’s a mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, grandfather, etc.—you take the risk. You willingly open yourself up, give a piece of your heart, and trust this person to cherish and return the cordiality you’ve so generously shared.

Sometimes they will return the love, and sometimes they won’t. That’s what makes love such a vulnerable place to be.

To be free of love is to be safe. To be free of affection, family, friends, neighbors, camaraderie, or any social mutuality is to be invincible and safe.

I remember having to read Buddha’s Dhammapada for my World Literature class last year. In Chapter 16, titled “Affection,” the Buddha actually warns his followers from becoming vulnerable in love:

210) Seek no intimacy with the beloved and also not with the unloved, for not to see the beloved and to see the unloved, both are painful.

211) Therefore, hold nothing dear, for separation from the dear is painful. There are no bonds for those who have nothing beloved or unloved.

From The Dhammapada, 6:210-211

While it certainly makes for a secure, unbroken heart, to not love is to be deprived of the most courageous of human emotion.

I was chatting with my grandmother the other day about the themes of familial love in Sophocles’s play Antigone. I had come to a conclusion that I shared with her regarding love. My exact words were: “Love is one of the most courageous of human emotions, it seems.”

And it’s true.

Love is the most courageous and daring of human emotions to manifest. Think even of Christ, in His love for us. No one has loved as Jesus loved, and no one has suffered as Jesus has suffered. Because of His outrageous love for us, He died on a tree, exposed, humiliated, and tormented. Because of His outrageous love for us, He became ultimately vulnerable.

“For God so loved the world.” Isn’t that what we always say? He so loved us “that He gave His one and only son?”

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

One of my favorite characters in the BBC series Sherlock is Irene Adler.

To destroy any unfair assumptions, Miss Adler isn’t on my favorite character list because she’s promiscuous, seductive, or manipulative. *Before I go on, I’d like to say that I do not condone Irene’s lifestyle or sexual conduct in any way whatsoever.* In fact, Irene isn’t even one of my favorite characters because she’s amazingly clever and smart. When I first watched “A Scandal in Belgravia,” I loathed her throughout the entire episode. This crafty, scheming, Jezebelian type woman has only one goal in mind: outsmart Sherlock Holmes and seduce him into giving her any information she wants along the way.

As far as episodes go, the only reason I even dared to say I liked it (due to some content) was because of the way it ended.

Like I said, I had no patience with little miss “indelicate” Irene throughout the episode’s duration…at least until the last fifteen or so minutes.

I only just realized it this week, because I’ve honestly been wracking my brain trying to understand why I was absolutely in love with Irene’s character and the ending of “A Scandal in Belgravia.” It was hard for me, since I knew I hated the sexual context of the episode, but when the episode concluded, all my heart could do was melt for Irene and Sherlock. And as I settled in to plan this blog post, I finally understood why I had loved it so very much.

Irene is found to be vulnerable.

Utterly vulnerable.

Throughout the duration of the episode, Sherlock views Miss Adler with admiration and (in my opinion) romantic interest. Viewers see her as a heard-hearted self-interested woman with no care for the hearts of others. Irene uses her wicked, womanly wiles to get what she wants from Sherlock, until she realizes things are going in the wrong direction.

She realizes that she’s fallen in love with Sherlock, and there’s nothing she can do about it.

And because she’s in love with Sherlock, she becomes vulnerable.

The hard, cold, seductive side of her is completely blindsided and corrupted once love starts to melt it away. In fact, Sherlock himself cleverly figures out Irene’s love for him, and thereby beating her in their battle of wits. As Sherlock says to her in the last few moments before he cracks the code to break into her mobile phone:

I’ve always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.

—Sherlock, from “A Scandal in Belgravia”

What was the code?

I am SHERlocked.

In her love, her strange vulnerability, Irene was exposed as not being so cold, ruthless, or heartless as she seemed. She loved, so she was vulnerable.

It was honestly the dumbest password she could have ever chosen, but the love inside her made her vulnerable, and that’s why the conclusion was absolutely genius.

And that was why she wept.

“You know.”

“I’ve been found out.”

“I am not as ineradicable as I appeared.”

“My love has found me out, and I’m broken because of it.”

As Sherlock said, love is a dangerous disadvantage. As Lewis said, “love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”

And yet love is the greatest disadvantage one could ever have during the course of one’s life. Because of love, I am free. Because of love, I am loved. No matter how many risks, no matter how many times my heart has been broken, no matter how many times I have cried…love has always been worth it.

My grandfather just passed away, and by just I mean literally…a few hours ago.

But I loved him.

I do love him.

Do I hurt? Do I feel all twisted inside?

Yes.

But I would not trade the feelings of love I have for him to remove these icky feelings I feel now. The Buddha didn’t see it, but I do: love is so worth any disadvantage. Love is worth the pain of parting. Love is worth all the vulnerability. I love my grandfather, who is dancing in the streets of glory just now. I would never dare to trade my love for him for perfect security in loneliness.

And just as Irene realized at the very, very end of the episode (see gif), love does return for the best. The advantages, feelings, comfort, and joy in love is so much greater than any disadvantage or moment of vulnerability.

I don’t want to give away any more spoilers.

And I will keep on loving. And I will risk everything to love just as my God loved me. I will open my life to others, I will pour my love out on them, just as my God did for me.

Why do I gain from his reward?

Because he loves. And he will never stop loving.

Neither will I.

If to love is to be vulnerable, then may I be the most vulnerable young woman on the planet (…and I mean that in the best way possible).

Oh, God…let me be vulnerable.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Emily 🐻

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