You have a friend whose life is always a mess. I mean his kids are a mess, his ex-wife is a mess, his girlfriend is a mess, his business is a mess, each and every client within his business is a mess. His dog is a mess. His girlfriend’s dog is an even bigger mess. His sex life is a mess. His financial picture is the biggest mess of all. Underneath this mess, the memoirist’s heart in you sees a small child sleeping beneath layers of quilts in a cold cabin in the woods, there’s this golden shining person–smart, insightful, funny, caring–slowly smothering beneath the ever-increasing layers of mess.
His messes are like that Greek myth about the Hydra. When you chop off one of the monster’s heads, two grow back in its place. Naturally, you try to help your mess of a friend. Here’s a little problem you can solve. There’s a little conflict you can figure out. See? you tell him, you can clean up your messes one by one, if you really want to. He professes to wants to. He desperately wants to! Yet, somehow, quite mysteriously, the quilts keep piling up on the child. Who’s putting them there? Buried messes resurface, new messes form, dead messes come back to life. It’s like a horrible magic trick that won’t end. A memoirist’s heart could really break.
The Biggest Favor Comes From the Heart
You decide once and for all to do him the biggest favor anyone could do. You go into his office and solve his problems for him. You talk to the clients. You convince them not to sue. You chase away people that cause him harm. You let everyone know they just can’t keep taking advantage of this mess of a guy anymore. There’s a new sheriff in town! You protect him from the mess makers. You shield him from the mess arrows. Somehow all this results in you leaving the office in tears. Within hours, he has re-enrolled with all of his messes. Next time you talk to him he almost seems to be bragging about how much worse things have gotten. Finally, you get it.
Everything is always about him and his messy messy mess. He never has to be fair to you or anyone because of the mess. He never has to give back. He never has to hold up his end of a deal. He is always the subject of sympathy, never the subject of blame. He is free of all reasonable expectations of duty because, after all, he is in the midst of a temporary crisis. Which never ends. Like you, he has a biographer’s heart, but used it to write excuse notes.
A Memoirist’s Heart Can Be Crushed, Too
Unaware of exactly what he’s doing, he feels guilty but not guilty enough. A crisis always pops up, preventing him from focusing on anyone but himself. This isn’t the real him! he professes. The real him is a loving, caring, generous, golden child! The real him is smothered beneath the quilts of messes! But the quilts keep coming, the quilts keep smothering. It gets colder outside the cabin until the child smothers slowly beneath the quilts that he puts upon himself.