How are you ?
How are you?
A common greeting I hear each day as I pass by a familiar face at work or a stranger in the streets. A gentle downward bow, a smile of politeness and a brief eye engagement but not too much to desire intimacy. A steady pace not enough to slow down to really hear a response to my 3 little words “ How are you?”
In all honesty we say or hear these words on a regular basis to the point of numbness. We really do not want to know the response from someone else as it may slow us down in our day. It may feel awkward to have to listen to what someone else has to say. We do not feel qualified to respond back to their continued response to our 3 little words,” how are you?”
Yet more over it is our own fear of having to answer those 3 words for ourselves. At what point do we dare to become vulnerable to reply back to the question asked? I wonder at times what would I say, when asked. Do I tell the truth of how am I really feeling? Do I tell the interviewer that I am feeling rushed due to the pressures of work, or the rough night I had with the kids, or a disagreement with a friend or my deeper worries of finances? What will they say if I unload myself to them all at once? DO I shudder with embarrassment?
Unconsciously in the split second of being asked “how are you?” we have to decide if we are feeling vulnerable enough to answer or even allow to feel that vulnerability. Thats the key. Vulnerability. Yet moreover are we willing to let someone else hold space for us to see this vulnerability that is to be expressed with authenticity and care. Do we trust another person to hold our vulnerability in their hands with tenderness and wisdom ?
The fear lies in the feeling of whether our vulnerability will be reciprocated . Will we be tossed to the sides of the roads of life as experience has taught us that we were in past encounters. Yet do we get up and do it again?
The magic of the moment lies in slowing down. Sharing the pause between asking the question and WAITING for a response, or better yet being asked the question and waiting for the response to emerge from within us. It is in LISTENING to the response from the other person or feeling the rising of that response within us that makes all the difference.
The slowing of the pace of stride, the connection of the eyes, the transference of posture to welcome a conversation, the facial features that invite care even before asking the question is where the greatest gift of humanity remains yet hidden.
So in the mean time I simply nod, smile and reply back to “ how are you?” with quick whips such as “ Best day ever”, “ I am upright and passing gas”, or “ any better I would be twins” or “ I am living my dream” and I continue to march along my day as I hear the laughter behind me which gives me some joy. And with my head down I still wonder about what my response and feel the pulse of my feelings swell up through memories as I check in to myself “ how am I REALLY doing?”
Yet if there is some one I ask this question, I make sure I am prepared to listen to their reply with care, poise and presence. Not to offer advice but to be the space in which their feelings of response have a place to land.
So how are you? ( I am listening)
I love you