And it is so hard to be right there. It is such an elusive, momentary thing. Such a present if it happens. Tenderness, when real vulnerability is seen and accepted. When all that is hurt, all that is hidden, all that I’m afraid to show, is just loved. When one is able to see through the show and love nonetheless, love even though, love what is behind.

I believe essentially we are life energy, but in order to be on earth, we manifest in matter. There are different layers, different levels of matter-ness, and when I’m in tenderness, I’m almost as close to life energy as I can ever become in this manifested form. It gives me a hint of who I might really be and remind me that all that is heavy, dark, love and lifeless is just something that I take for life even if is isn’t, just a confusion.

A friend once taught me there are 4 feelings – sadness, anger, joy & fear… I could imagine each one can form an entryway to tenderness. Real, expressed and shared joy can bring two people very close, same as a real explosion anger, a big, satisfying fight in which all is brought out and afterwards there is calm and love. My favorite, or maybe my preferred, one is sadness though. There is a quality of sadness that I learned to call mourning. It’s one I didn’t know about growing up. It’s a sadness that’s almost intentional, a feeling that willingly gives attention to that which might have been and wasn’t.

If a close friend or relative dies, we mourn what might have been. What we have missed saying, what we haven’t done together, what is unfinished. If something I was looking forward to doesn’t work out, I mourn. It’s not exactly like the feeling I call sadness. I never liked sadness. To me that feels like an upset child not getting what it wanted. Mourning is more a loving attention to the pain caused by this loss, more than the non-acceptance of the fact that it is gone, which I associate with sadness.

If I mourn, I accept that right now I am in pain and offer myself a space and time for it. Those are precious moments for me, because the pain tells me what I really really care for, so much that I almost feel physical pain when I imagine losing it. It is like a close person putting their hand on your shoulder, giving you a hug – not being able to alleviate your pain, but being there, understanding and appreciating how important this is and was for you.

Mourning allows me to be this for myself, which for me is important, because rarely, in the world I create for myself, there is someone else who could do this for me. I deeply love the closeness I feel with myself when I get to feel so connected to what is so precious to me. Even deeper I love the rare moments when I get to feel so connected to what is so precious in someone else, or if someone else connects in this way to me.

Pain, shame, judgement, fear of judgement, lack of words – I have to go beyond all of these to allow another to see me. Reduce the distance, open the eyes, take off the armor, find the right quality of words, feeling and touch. This is such a delicate feat – and at this point we may be so sensitive that one careless moment can destroy the magic.

I can never ask someone to open up to me. I can open up myself, I can offer my listening, I can offer space and time, acceptance, love, empathy. I can show that I’m not afraid, not ashamed, not going to look away, walk away, let them fall when they are so vulnerable. But I can never make someone open up – and whenever I try, I am so very sorry about it.

I can touch this place within myself and if I dare, I can bring it out, offer this very very precious gift. And maybe, maybe, if you are really there, you can see it and hold it, and offer me something in return.

I’d love that.


– Ivo Degn | Founder of Knowmads Lab

Ivo Degn has been on road for the last years, internally and externally, learning about human development, learning, communication, emotions, connection. Trying to understand what makes human beings free and how one can get there.
He is currently working on the development of Knowmads Labs, the Knowmads School in the world. www.knowmads.nl