Tough versus tender

So my friend and I were hanging out the other day in my bright sunroom, gazing through the windows at tight buds and green shoots and the wind-tossed sea, and drinking ginger tea, and speaking of ghastly things (because she is a writer too).
And I was talking about another dear friend who seems so strong and positive to me, stoic, even, though she worries (as we all do) only NOT half as much as I seem to. Not even a quarter as much. And some of the ghastly things are even shared experience with this dear friend but she just handled it so much better than I ever did.
Then the tea-drinking friend said to me after a pause in which I mulled over some of the horrors she had told me- the kids taped thick Sears catalogs to their feet in the winter; around Xmas time her father would be lying drunk under the table each morning; the farm cows cried for their calves for a week every time, and the pigs dug their heels in like dogs being taken to the vet- “Maybe you couldn’t be a writer if you were all stoic and stiff-upper lippery?”
And then we drank more tea and talked about being open, like clams all hard shelled AND pink and soft and vulnerable, and made a few more frightful analogies (as writers do), before coming to the conclusion that it is quite probably true.
You can’t observe people- which seems to come very naturally to me and the writers I know, and wonder about people, and think about emotions and reactions and feelings, and delve into someone else’s experience, and crawl around inside your own head so much without making yourself pervious (is that even a word? like the opposite of impervious???) or perhaps I mean, permeable to everything. (Permeable as in a non-waterproof jacket or membrane if you are a creature that breathes through its skin). And if you ARE wearing a permeable skin, then you can’t choose what to let in, you have to let it ALL in, and that is frankly exhausting and also very satisfying.
So even though it hurts quite often and I worry about everybody even people I don’t know like that diver who just died at 43, and those trapped Peruvian miners and poor, puffy, put-upon Ashley Judd (who quite clearly rocks!), I’m going to stay open, and live open. And I’m going to keep my friends close by.