I will now share my poem about self-protective behaviors that alienate us from each other. In all forms of communication, we cannot connect with others unless we drop our shiny, unyielding facades to expose our emotions, face vulnerability, and reveal our hearts--our true mettle.
Behind the Armor
by Susan L. Lipson
wear arrogance for masks,
aloofness for protective suits,
meanness for shields,
while battling insecurity,
Ninjas prefer hand-to-hand combat
building thicker skin through baring it,
from struggle to sweat to sigh to
No heavy armor required
when we are who we are.
No hasty judgment pronounced
when we know who they are.
The next time you feel insulted by someone's apparent arrogance, feel sympathy for the insecurity that hides behind the actions. When your warmth is iced over by someone's coldness, have compassion for her fear of emotional sharing. And when a bully tries to make you feel small, pity his misguided need to put others down in order to raise himself up. Channel all of these feelings into actions and reactions guided not by judgment, but by understanding. That's how we shed the heavy armor that weighs us down and prevents us from connecting with each other.
That's also how we writers connect to our fictional characters, to make them real for readers: we must first know their naked selves before we can hide them beneath armor for our readers to uncover. The joy of finding the cracks in a character's armor, and eventually uncovering that character's heart, is one of the great joys of reading, isn't it?