He wasn’t like you, though he was your age. His life was harder. The reasons matter but you wouldn’t care. You are capable of caring but would rather be entertained in a way that offers some kind of rush. Actually, that tendency is something he shared with you. He went out of his way looking for rushes instead of handling his responsibilities and/or learning the lessons he didn’t yet believe he would ever need, the lessons he in fact as a boy had soberly accepted but now rejected.
The consequences for him were tough. So he toughened. One does what one must to survive. You would probably like to be tough, but because your life has not been as tough as his, you are not as tough as him. That does not matter to you because to you, he is not real. You believe in only what you see, and really only a fraction of that. You think this is wisdom. In fact, you misinterpret just about everything. Behind the surface of just about everything is a meaning different than what you take it for, a purpose for which you lack the tool, a relationship with what is to you a stranger. The stranger has doubts about your heart and your manners.
But you would have liked him, the young man who was not like you. He knew how to have fun. He was brave, resourceful, and funny in a way that made people smile at the sound of his name: funny not for what he said or even did, but how he saw things, who he just was. In fact, if everything had gone well for him, he would still have been these things. Like you.
Alas, shit sucked. Beatings from above and all sides. Love hooked and snatched. Death opening holes in his life, putting out its cigarette on faces in his family photos. Sex ruined by abuse. His mother beaten. Himself given away to “parents” in it for the paycheck. Hunger for food, learning and attention. A sister he couldn’t save. Drugs after they’re fun, when they have their hands on you. A sudden final chance to save his sister that he failed to take. Laziness. Hopelessness; dread. Cold. Degradation.
Did he have an outlet? The funny thing was, he felt that he never had time for an outlet. As if that was some kind of luxury, a way to be creative, to generate himself and his world instead of mentally fragmenting and exploding the real physical world in which at best he was barely making rent and keeping his room clean.
He started to think of himself as a slave.
You think of yourself as free.
He looked at you the way a slave looks at a free person in a society that allows slaves.
You are capable of looking at him but would rather be entertained in a way that offers some kind of rush.