I found out about the death of Cory Monteith in the middle of the night, after getting up to hit the bathroom and failing to resist checking my iPhone for messages before going back to bed (apparently I believe I'm so important that emails and texts coming my way must be addressed immediately).
Like so many others, I'd gotten to know Cory only through his character on Glee, when he seemed so happy in general, when his problems seemed so fixable, who, when times got tough, could always bring himself to sing it out.
And so I guess I figured I knew who Cory was, too.
I was struck by his death, not just because of the tragedy of it, but because of that recurring lesson that we just never know what's going on with people. We never know what they're going through, what their lives are really like, what's in their minds. This goes for those we know personally and those we only know through some kind of boxed media device.
Really, only those closest to a person have a sense of what he or she is ever really dealing with at any given time, and no one except that person can ever be inside his or her head. Think about it. Does anybody know everything you think and feel and battle and love...at all times?
We as a society are so quick to make snap decisions. We see a star on television and think their lives must be so glamorous. We watch the slow person in front of us in line and decide that they are not just inconsiderate of the rest of us, but perhaps slow in more ways than one. We come across a person on the street who is dressed impeccably and decide they are successful, confident, happy.
I've begun paying attention to my snap judgments of people at all hours of every day, and been stunned -- and, admittedly, a bit appalled -- by how quick I am to not just observe their actions, but to make all kinds of decisions about them and their character.
It happens in a microsecond.
And who am I?
Do I have opinions about current events? Sure. We all do, and it's natural.
But do I know what Cory Monteith was going through? Nope. Do I have any sense of what George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were living with before that terrible evening? Nope. Do I really need to cast judgment on Angelina Jolie -- either way -- for her big mastectomy decision of 2013? Heck no. But somehow I've felt like I had a right to make decisions and cast judgments on all of them at one point or another.
In the end, we're all just people. And so maybe we all just need to chill out and recognize that the only people who truly know what someone is living with, thinking about, and going through is that person's closest circle, and, ultimately, really just that person alone.
Maybe we just need to give our minds a break and leave the snap judgments out of the mix. Then we can focus on what's really important: ourselves, and perhaps providing a bit of help to the other people, the ones we used to judge.
After all, when it comes down to it, I'd sure prefer others not make all kinds of assumptions about me.
So this little bargain seems only fair.