I often meet an elderly woman during my morning walk. I don’t know her but we say hello. This morning she asked me how I was and I said: “I’m fine thank you. How are you?” To which she replied: “Carrying on”. She didn’t mean carrying-on as in flirtatious behavior! What she meant was: ‘I’m carrying on with the business of living……” It sounded rather sad to me.
As I continued my walk I began to think about various ways in which we answer a routine polite question: How are you doing? Do you think the people who ask us this question are really interested in how we’re doing? If we told them the truth would they believe us? Would they really care?
I remember an aging hypochondriac grumbling to me: “People ask me how I am. And when I start to tell them, they seem disinterested.” That’s because he insisted on giving people all the details of his many illnesses (some real, some imagined), complete with dosage of medication! I found this really hilarious and shared it with a friend. He told me to suggest that this gentleman answer an inquiry of how he was with a counter question: “How much do you want to know?”
My father often calls an elderly relative to ask how he’s doing. Much to my father’s amusement (disgust!) he gets regular updates on the man’s bowel movements!
Some people think that it’s tempting the Gods if you say, “I’m doing great.” I think they imagine that the moment the words leave their mouths, they’ll be struck by a great bolt of lightening. With some others you can see that they’re struggling with a lot of pain, but they’ll answer: “I’m doing fine”.
I think our response is determined by how well we know the other person and how comfortable we are with ourselves. Perhaps, we can find ways of being honest about our feelings without revealing too much: “I’m not doing too good today. But I’m sure I’ll be better tomorrow.” “I’m on the top of the world and so grateful to feel this way.”
I’m sure there are several ways to answer this question.
So, dear reader, how are you doing?
May you be inspired – every day!