SRAOC #4 The Strength of Fragility

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

This week’s prompt was: The Strength of Fragility


What I am discovering with these prompts is the thinking, exploration and creative wandering that happens in my head is perhaps richer and more pertinent than anything tangible that comes of them. Each prompt is an invitation to go somewhere new, or to consider from a different perspective, somewhere old.

This week’s prompt created a juxtaposition of opposites –  strength and fragility — and as it turns out I misplaced the ‘of’ for ‘in’.  And fragility kept bringing to mind, vulnerability.

The first clip I have to offer came from a google search (as I attempted to quantify ‘what’ had strength and fragility) and then on the eve of this post, a second idea came organically, somewhere around the fridge precinct of the kitchen.


The first thing I think of is that of a paper crane and the story of Sadako. I folded this from a 3″ square piece of newspaper. It’s uneven and messy but it captures for me the essence of strength and fragility.

I’ve heard this quote repeatedly, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.” And I believe it is an apt summation of me as a person. I am not your stereotypical male; I don’t fit the model of masculinity put forward by advertising, film, etc. I write, I (attempt to) draw, I play drums, I read books.
And so, the symbol of the crane is one that I have come to see as one of enduring strength in the midst of fragility.

I mean, I thought
would be best
you shrugged


I captured this image as I was turning around on Holly Beach Farm Road after doing some research about Chesapeake Bay. Although the photo shoot I was attempting to do was a bust, this photo was the blessing in disguise – literally. It has always served as a metaphor for strength in fragility for me; the doe is practically invisible as it takes great risks at sunrise to feed on early spring shoots. In the risks she takes, she is vulnerable. For me, there is great beauty within the pastels of this early morning. Her strength leads to fragility; and in her fragility, I am provided strength. 

I am struck with the paradoxical box we creatives find ourselves in. I am immediately reminded of the oft-used quote by Red Smith: Writing is easy; just open your veins, and bleed.

Crazy, but it’s true. Authentic creativity, where we go beyond the superficiality of creating products for the masses by skimming the surface of our emotions and experiences, takes great risk and great strength. To reach those deeper emotions and the core of those experiences, we are required to “go deep” and open a vein, as Red Smith suggests.

It’s not easy, and with that strength, we find ourselves terribly exposed, vulnerable, fragile. But it’s the only way to create pieces that leave a mark, make a difference, change a moment or two in this world.

And, if we are lucky, bring a little strength and courage to others.

Paradoxical. Cyclical. Strength leads to fragility; fragility leads to strength.

Which validates every risk we take. Be strong in your fragility. And for those who have risked their fragility for me in the past, I thank you for your strength.

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