Okay, before you get all worked up, let me start by saying I’m not talking about religion here. I’m not touching that third rail. At least not in this particular blog entry.
I’m referring to the fact that the older you get, the more often you can see some people’s lives as slow motion train wrecks. You stand there at the platform watching that train go past, wanting to get it to stop, knowing in the very marrow of your bones that it’s about the jump the tracks, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. It’s a horrible feeling.
You feel it when a young girl marries the guy who has “only” hit her a couple of times. You feel it when someone thinks they can handle heroin, or when they take unnecessary risks with their safety or their money. You hear the chug chug chug of the train at family get togethers when Cousin Bobby has had a little too much to drink and is clearly about to tell Aunt Georgina some home truths that he’s been saving up for her for decades. You whisper, “Don’t do it…” but he does.
It’s a natural instinct to want to save people whom you care about. But it’s also a natural instinct for people to want to live their own lives, and unfortunately that includes making their own mistakes. People are not pawns on your own personal chess board. You have to let them make their own moves, no matter how hard it is to watch.
If someone asks for your advice, feel free to give it. If someone wants you to listen, listen. If someone asks you for help, by all means provide it if you can and if you think it will make a difference. By all means assist in the clean up after the fact. But don’t spend too much time on that platform, bearing witness, or someday you might get hit by the debris.