There’s an old Jewel song called “I’m Sensitive” with the chorus:
So please be careful with me, I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way.
I’m just now realizing how sensitive I am. I used to think I was the exact opposite- cold and unfeeling- and that I was born that way. I’m realizing now that my icy heart was more of a defense mechanism than an innate character trait. Maybe because some people were not careful with me, I learned ‘sensitive’ was not safe. And maybe because people have been careful with me more recently- Nick was valiantly careful with me– I’m realizing that I am sensitive and that it’s okay to express my sensitivity.
I used to think sensitivity was weak. I’ve changed my mind. In Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle says, “Kindness is the only strength there is.” I know kindness and sensitivity aren’t the same thing, but I think in order to be kind you must first be sensitive enough to feel for people and- just as importantly- for yourself.
It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve learned how to do that.
And only recently have I noticed these little quirks in myself that attest to my sensitivity- the fact that I never change the clock in my car when I move to a different time zone (because somehow having the time set differently will keep me tied to the lives of friends and/or family I’ve left behind), or how I sleep clutching my ex-boyfriend’s gray tee-shirt (because somehow holding something of his just slightly eases the ache of missing him), or how I have the hardest time throwing away cards (because kind words from friends mean so much to me).
Further into the Jewel song she says:
I was thinking that it might do some good
If we robbed the cynics and took all their food
That way what they believe will have taken place
And we’ll give it to anybody who has some faith
She puts herself in battle against those who are cynics, or insensitive. For me it’s not so much that I’m fighting against “them” out there, but against my inner cynic, the inner self that has become hardened and insensitive from so many of my own and others’ stories of hurt and betrayal.
I was recently telling a couple friends that my cynical self is currently bullying the part of me that has hope, telling her she is a fool to hope in a future.
The last verse in Jewel’s song says:
I have this theory that if we’re told we’re bad
Then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have
But maybe if we are surrounded in beauty
Someday we will become what we see
‘Cause anyone can start a conflict
It’s harder yet to disregard it
I’d rather see the world from another angle
We are everyday angels
I’ve spent much of my life eager to start a conflict. I love to argue, love to look strong.
But thanks to the beauty around me, and the beauty people have seen in me, I’m now seeing the world from another angle- one that is full of love and grace and a beautiful and tender sensitivity.
You can listen to Jewel’s song here.