27 February 2012

How are you, how are you?

Lately when someone starts a conversation inquiring of my state of being, I find myself (often a problem in any case!) rendered speechless. The simple statement, “How are you?” puzzles my will.  I recognize that this query is often meant as an opening to conversation, and that I am not really expected to respond at all to the posed question. I acknowledge that the question serves as a lubricant to open the psychic mechanisms and allows them to loosen and run more easily. Or it is meant to avoid the mechanisms all together. “How are you? “Fine, and you? “Oh, fine. How’s _____?” Or the question invites leaking: By indirection find direction out. But I am never sure at what level or intensity to begin? I do not think it appropriate to rev the engine in the cold for fear of damaging it; even intimacy requires some slowness and subtlety. At what depth should I start the conversation? Shall I enter slowly, as when I step very cautiously into the ocean depths acclimating myself in small steps to the temperature of the water until up to my neck I am acclimated and can immerse myself fully in the sea; or is it best to just run aggressively in until the water is at my knees and then dive full body under the incoming wave.  I suppose I could respond, “You don’t want to know!” in which case the conversation ends immediately. I prefer not to, I have answered.
As words “How are you” are meant more as a wedge than a worry, meant not to pry but to pry open. My will is puzzled: sometimes I just look at the time on the clock on the wall and begin there. I am, however, expected to say something, and truthfully, I don’t of late know what it is I am supposed to say: though, if the questioner is not an intimate acquaintance I respond with the cliché: “I’m good, you?” Of course, to be “good” is to be nothing: what does ‘good’ mean in that context? Sometimes, when I ask this question some actually answer “Fabulous,” and frankly, I haven’t the foggiest idea how what to say to that response. I’m not sure what that could mean, ‘fabulous,’ and sometimes I feel that I don’t really want to know. This awareness might only exacerbate my own self-absorbed sorry state.
My closer friends don’t seem to ask the question: they grab my hand and head right into the water. They know they are eventually going to get wet anyway!
It is an odd statement, “How are you?” I suspect I ought to wonder not “how are you?” but “where are you?” Or sometimes I might ask, “So, what are you reading?” The start of conversation crosses boundaries and the border guards are on alert. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh...when thought upon, the question "how are you" is absurd. I tend to use it regularly since I make people uncomfortabe when I don't follow societal norms. BLAH! Or should I say BAA! I am too much a sheep at times.

You suggest the opening greeting of "where are you?" I would suggest "who are you??????" And, if you didn't look at me as though I had just grown horns, I would truly want to know "who and where" you are at that moment!

28 May, 2012 22:20  

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