May 21, 2008

What, Me Worry?

Somehow, I think this is backwards.

I know some very capable people. I also know some pretty broken people - addicts and alcoholics... In a lot of respects, those two groups are almost completely mutually exclusive.

Among my group of capable people - and by capable, I mean people who are totally able to take care of themselves and family, face adversity and ultimately thrive - there are some that are facing challenges. These aren't challenges that are catastrophes, but they're important, potentially life-changing events.

I worry about them.

Among my broken friends, the very nature of being broken makes them likely be close to losing jobs, losing life partners, losing their health, and even the possibility of becoming homeless.

I don't worry about them so much.

There are certain realities about both groups. The first, and perhaps most relevant to me is that my intervention isn't going to change anything for members of either group. Even if I wanted to, the most that I could do is stand by and watch... I can't carry their burden for them, no matter how much I love them, and how much I might want to.

The broken ones don't realize this. They've reached a point in their lives where the dialog starts and ends with their pleas for help. Of course, they aren't looking for help with their burdens, but with the trappings of their burdens - money for gas (because they drank or smoked their cash), a couch to sleep on for a couple days, help selling some possession at bargain-basement prices to get a deposit for a new apartment... that sort of thing.

For my broken friends, there is an inevitable course that you must follow, and my twenty dollars isn't getting them down that road any faster. For them, it is a matter of getting to the end of the road and discovering it is a dead end. I will know things have changed for them when they start asking for help getting off that road, rather than further down it.

My capable friends, on the other hand, more or less suffer in silence. They smile and laugh, go to work, take care of their family, have fun... but deep down, you know they're hurt. You also know that they're among the most talented and capable people you know, and that they'll get through the pain, and come out on the other side even stronger.

Why is it that I worry about the ones that can take care of themselves, and don't lose sleep over the broken ones?

There are a lot of reasons, but ultimately, it is about feeling empathy and sympathy about a situation that is cause by something external to them. I love them. The fact that they hurt is not their fault. I would do whatever I could do to ease their suffering.

About the best I can do is stand by and watch.

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