An innocuous question, one that is asked every Sunday (lol!) at churches across America, and it is usually answered with “I’m fine.” Which is no answer at all but is accepted, usually in the same spirit in which it was asked – which is shallow and really disinterested.
My dear friend Zane asked me, the last time I saw her, “Are you happy?” And she meant the question with real depth and sincerity. That’s one of the reasons she is my friend. My answer was sincere and vulnerable and didn’t have to become a litany of my woes. It opened up opportunity for discussion of either the positives or otherwise as she perceived them to be appropriate.
I have been reading Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance and that question shows up. It prompts me to consider both the intention behind asking the question in a meaningful way – wanting to know the other person with greater depth – but also offering an opportunity to the other to answer as they can, to perhaps go into real vulnerability. I think about those who matter most to me and asking that question, hoping for an answer with depth. That hope is predicated on my relationship with them, how much I love them in the way that I do, and wanting to know them better.
Part of the problem may be that people don’t know how to answer the question, or aren’t able to as they are not used to even asking themselves the question. So many go through life with “I’m fine” as their internal default, all the while knowing otherwise (as evidenced by their internal dialogue.)
Now I pose the question to you dear reader: How are you?