Remember when you were a little kid and a grown-up would exclaim “Don’t touch that! You’ll get burnt!” as you ignorantly – albeit innocently – rushed up to touch an extreme heat source? But you touched it anyway? And then understood what getting “burnt” actually felt like.
In a painful instant, you ‘got it’.
People who care about you will always try to protect you – even from yourself – but chances are you’re only going to truly ‘get it’ after the fact. Because until you actually experience what they’re trying to insulate you from, you won’t fully understand or appreciate the raw sensation, magnitude and the real consequences of it all.
Life is full of these lessons.
Some pretty harmless. Others less so.
Later you’ll discover that singeing your fingers on a naked flame or lightbulb is a breeze compared with say, learning to deal with a break-up or the loss of a loved one.
Try though they may (and must), nobody can fully prepare you for these moments.
And even when they do try to forewarn and forearm you, it’s likely that most of what they’ll say will come across as mere words.
Abstract, slightly foreign concepts.
You see we can’t know what it really feels like till it happens to us.
Till we’ve been through it.
Until then we can only approximate or suppose the feeling. Our approach is a more intellectual one. We say things like “It must be awful” or “I can only imagine what you’re going through.”
Language can be such a convenient and dispassionate tool that way. We can avail ourselves of words without really feeling their meaning and weight. A wealth of expressions and phrases at our disposal to insulate us from life’s raw, less pleasant emotions.
But that’s understandable.
Because we can’t know it, till we know it.
I’d like to think that we all arrive there though – albeit at different times and in different ways.
You too, Dear Young Person.
It’s in our nature to be drawn to the light.
And I have no doubt that you’ll want to rush up to it.
Though I wish for you to not get too badly burnt.