I’ve noticed an increasing change in the traditional way that we answer the question: “How are you?” It makes me wonder if it might not lead to a time when we just stop asking people how they are doing. But my observation is that I usually hear one of three responses…
1) Fine. This is the tradition. When people ask us how we are doing, for most of us, we know that the unwritten rule is that we are supposed to say “fine.” This is especially true when we don’t really intend to go into a discussion about our well-being with whoever has offered the greeting. We often deflect the question by this longer response: “Fine, thanks. And how are you?” That immediately tells the other person that we are both polite and that we have no intention of really talking about how we are doing?
2) Busy. I’ve heard this more and more in recent years. I’m not sure what motives us to tell people that we are busy, but it does get a little bit more personal than “fine.” We are, by and large, a busy people. We stay busy and we feel that being busy is a good quality of character to have. I ask Brent, “How are you?” He Brent says, “I”m busy.” What I hear that, I think… to myself… Brent is a busy guy…. he has a lot of work to do… a lot of kids to take care of… a lot of projects he’s working on… whatever. And so I nod my head and say, “I hear ya!” Which is another way of saying, “I can relate to that, I”m busy too!” Because I want Brent to know that I’m a hard worker and I have lots of stuff to do. Imagine someone saying, “Really? Busy? Imagine that! I don’t know what its like to be busy.” Translation: I’m a lazy bum and I have no idea what it’s like to have lots of stuff to do.” Ridiculous.
3) Tired. I’m getting this more and more. Because we are such a busy people, the result is, we are also a very tired people. It’s almost become the “norm” to be living on some kind of “caffiene” buzz. And if we’re not high on caffiene or even worse… then we’re “tired.” This has made me wonder a couple of things..
First, are we more “busy” than we really need to be? Can we not calm down and slow the pace of life enough so that we get back to answering, “fine” and actually mean it.
Second, are we really tried? Or are we so used to being “high” or “buzzed” on caffeine or hyperactive or busy… that what used to be a normal pace is now regarded as “tried.”
I don’t know. I do have five children. Maybe I really am busy and tired. Maybe that’s just life.