Zak of All Trades: Pondering the unavoidable fate of 'vincibility'

Sometimes, I go through an interesting chain of events to arrive at what I'll be writing about each particular week.

This week, with the temperatures in the single digits and the wind chill dipping into the negative numbers, it was kind of hard not to start thinking about the weather — in particular, how much I dislike
single-digit temperatures.

On an unrelated note, I've also been doing a lot of other thinking, mainly surrounding the news of the death of my close friends' father, who made it evident time and again that he cared for me before he was taken away from us far too soon.

These thoughts sparked in me other thoughts surrounding a topic I've come to know quite well and ponder quite often — something I call "vincibility."

Basically, vincibility is the opposite of invincibility.

Back to the cold weather: There is absolutely nothing that I enjoy doing more, when the mercury falls off the thermometer, than curling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.

And, one of the books I have handy on my bookshelf is the one that I wrote and self-published called "in a cracked mirror: reflections on brokenness."

The reason all of these thoughts came together in my book is because the very topic that's been on my mind — vincibility — is a central topic in my book.

While many of you have not read the book, I still consider the message in it one that I should share with folks, and so, with the second anniversary of the book's official release date coming this week, I figured I'd take some time to talk about the topic I've pondered oh so much.

Vincibility is three-fold, as far as I can tell.

The first facet of one's vincibility is the most obvious: the physical aspect.

As sad as it is, and as hard as it is to admit at times, our time on this earth is limited.

The unfortunate, untimely death of an area 19-year-old woman; the passing of my dear friends' father; the obituary for an 18-month-old baby in the paper; and the recent passing of my great-grandmother are all reminders of my vincibility.

Death has a way of putting things into perspective, but we certainly have the option of pretending that we are invincible.

In doing so, we end up limiting ourselves, but it is, in fact, one way of handling the realization that we are vincible.

The second facet of vincibility that often arises is what I tagged the emotional one.

Our emotions and our feelings are not perfect.

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, our feelings can be hurt, and we can fall into emotionally difficult times.

In the book, I speak a bit about my struggle, at times, with depression, and how I again had to make a choice.

Once I realized that depression was a real force affecting my emotional state, I had to choose to embrace it and learn to cope with it or to pretend it wasn't happening and keep putting on a "happy" front.

In the end, I again feel like admitting our emotional vincibility is a healthier way of dealing with the problem. In doing so, we allow ourselves to seek a solution instead of spending all our energy hiding the problem.

Finally, the third aspect of vincibility that I discuss in my book — my favorite as a former seminarian — is the spiritual side.

Now, I know the word spiritual automatically makes some people think church, and trust me, my take on the spiritual side of vincibility is one that has a lot to do with my Christian faith.

But, the fact of the matter is, we all believe something, and we all have a code by which we live our lives. I am yet to meet an individual who has actually lived up to his or her own perfect spiritual self.

Again, it is a possibility to put on a front and hide the vincibility from others, and sometimes from ourselves.

But for a third time, it is my thought that admitting and accepting our vincibility — or our brokenness — makes us healthier, happier people.

Then, I throw everything for a loop by saying that I think realizing we are vincible is only Step 1 of this life that we live.

Step 2 — a much more difficult step for me — is learning to accept and live with the fact that everyone around us is vincible.

Physically, the people around us are not with us forever.

Emotionally, the way people react to their own feelings and emotions affects how I interact with them.

Spiritually, I'm surrounded by people who I know aren't living their lives by their own "perfect codes."

And the issue of judging them based on our own spiritual codes opens a whole new can of worms.

Two years ago, I made these thoughts public knowledge through my book, telling my story of coming to realize my own brokenness, coming to realize the brokenness of others — specifically my grandfather, who we lost to lung cancer a few years back — and learning to live fully and joyfully in that brokenness.

Two years later, I'm still struggling with fully understanding brokenness in myself and others.

But the conversation's on the table.

In writing the book, I admitted I wasn't perfect.

But reminding myself of that fact is a daily struggle.

Tomorrow, I'll wake up with a whole new line of defenses I'll have to overcome.

But I truly believe the world is a better place when we face and accept our vincibility, owning up to our flaws and freeing ourselves to live joyfully and fully in our brokenness.

No matter what you're facing today, I have a feeling that it's reminding you in one way or another of your vincibility.

Remember, you're not alone.

We're in this together, and together, we're gonna be alright.

Zak Lantz is the editor of The Punxsutawney Spirit.