As much as we may not like to admit it - and I've touched on this before - we're human. Therefore, we're mortal.
We're not bulletproof.
We've not hearts made of stone (though, some may try to say otherwise) and when we feel, we feel deeply, madly, and without consent. When we hurt, we cry. If we don't, sometimes it's much worse that shaking a soda bottle and waiting for the top to explode off because it can't handle the pressure built inside. That's the way we are, the way we're built.
The past couple of weeks have been...interesting. There were some liquor bottles stolen from work - nobody's been arrested, though an accusation was made - and that accusation came down on a friend of mine who, while he's a little rough around the edges, has a good heart. Sees the world a little differently, but is a good person (I'd like to think I don't stay too long around the ones who aren't). This whole incident couldn't have come at a worse time for him - one of his good friends and classmates (one of my old high school classmates, too) committed suicide last week. At the age of twenty, the day after his birthday.
Now, everyone has baggage. I'd like to think that I've managed to get mine down to a carry-on sized bag covered in blue plaid, but there are some people I know that have an entire set - slightly mismatched in pattern - that they tote with them because they're not ready to let go, or they can't yet, because they're not done collecting. They're not ready to really start processing through it, or they haven't met someone to make them go through it. Force them to look at it, examine it, and sort out what should/could/might have been a better choice and what things weren't anybody's fault, and just those things that life likes to chuck out on a regular basis to see how you deal. Those little tests, those moments when I remember my sister's words to me: God will only give you what you can handle - no more, no less.
Not everybody handles it the same way.
And sometimes it's enough to bring a charismatic, flamboyount young man down a couple of pegs to where he feels he's not bulletproof anymore. Where's he's hittable, sinkable, and slogging through the undergrowth without something to hack at it. As a friend, watching him at the moment, and hoping that he keeps a job that he's had for four years and that he keeps everything together, I don't know what to do to help him find that thing to hack at the undergrowth. Or to find him a cart for his baggage.
What I do know is that I'm not the person he needs to sit down and go through it with him. I can't offer to do that with him, because it's not me that he needs in that capacity. I have a different purpose. I need to show him that yes, the light at the end of the tunnel might be the uncoming train - a la Murphy - but it also might be only what it looks like. A light at the end of a tunnel. A way out. And you just chug through and hope for the best. You do the best you can with what you have to work with. You ignore what you can until, well, you can't really ignore it anymore, and then you man up, sit down, open your baggage and sort through all the dirty laundry you've been neglecting since you can remember. It's painful, it stinks, and it's absolutely disgusting in some places, but it's utterly necessary. You file things away, you hold onto what you need to - even if you think you don't want to - and you remember that hey, you lived through it once, and you can do it again. You remember the people that have helped you along the way, whether they hefted a suitcase for you, or they pointed you in the direction you needed to go.
You smile, say thank you, and you plod through your own way because you grow. You find a little more of yourself you didn't know you had. You're a little wiser, a little more with it. Not quite as bulletproof as you once were, but we're all human.
And that just might be the most important thing to remember.