How are you?
No… really… How are you?
We ask these questions to each other out of rote socialization, and most times the answers go unheard. We ask it in passing in the halls, we ask it as a place holder when there is no other way into a conversation, and we ask it to be polite. How often does someone ask it to genuinely know? How often, when asked that question, do you feel that the person asking has already moved on to the next strand of thoughts before you’ve even opened your mouth? How often do you actually listen for an answer?
The problem with this query is that all too often it is mistaken for “How are things with you?” They’re not the same at all, really. One implies curiosity about the circumstances and events in your general life, the other, the first, is a curiosity about you the person, about how you feel and are engaging with the world.
To answer the question honestly requires a moment of introspection, evaluation (of both yourself and the perceived relationship between you and the questioner—do you trust them with your emotions? With the truth?), and honesty. It requires you to lower your shields if just for a moment to let someone in to see your world, for good or for ill.
So this homework assignment is a question, even a Meme, if you will. I want you to stop, take a moment and answer. Emotions are wily things, and often the more profound they are, the more difficult it is to express them without asking someone to crawl inside your head and heart to feel it themselves. But that’s the beauty of words. They provide you, when strung together, with the ability to describe emotion—whether in a jumble of words together, through metaphor, through analogy, or through poetry or a story. Even images carry great weight to convey meaning and emotion.
Express it however you wish, and feel free to leave it in the comments here anonymously, or to me via email. Feel free to leave your name, but I hope that the anonymity will provide for a cushion of honesty and sincerity without the fear of scrutiny. Here’s your chance to capture whatever emotion/s—wonderful, horrible, or middling–you’re feeling right now and express them to someone who genuinely wants to know…
How are you?