How are you?
It’s a fairly common question which people ask each other. A simple question which should be easy to answer, and yet this is the kind of question which tends to surprise me and confuse me.
I’m never prepared for it, nor do I ever know how to handle it once it happens (which is pretty much my modus operandi for life).
Especially if the person asking it is genuinely asking it rather than going through polite small talk motions, and really wants an answer rather than a polite small talk reply.
However the people who ask me the question usually don’t notice how perplexing it is for me… or do they? Maybe they do… particularly if there’s an awkward silence after it has been asked while I stare at them as though they just asked me to multiply 350,996 by 4632.
But just as things threaten to go somewhere weird, I remember an answer and give it to them wrapped up with a big relief-filled smile – I’m fine! How are you?
And I am fine, just as I just said I was. Please don’t question it because then I might have to use my fingers to do the math and we’ll be here until the next big snow storm.
Did any of you experience ‘the Beast from the East’? The Weather News people weren’t making it up, were they. It really did happen just as they said they would. And in some places they’re still snowed in up to their eyeballs… where I am it’s almost as though it didn’t happen and was all a feverish hallucination.
Sometimes how we are is like that too. A sudden storm hits our being and we’re buried under emotion, frozen with fear, sick with chaos, our mind shooting out bolts of crazy, our souls trying to find some light in a dark abyss, We’re both falling and being fallen upon. We’re certain we’re going to die, and then… suddenly we’re okay again.
Being human is not dissimilar to being planet Earth. A lot happens to it, inside and outside, but somehow it keeps going around and around, doing its thing.
I think part of the puzzling aspect of being asked how I am for me is…
not so much the bit which comes from growing up with narcissists, where you come to realise fairly quickly that no one gives a flying eff how you are, they’re only asking you for some convoluted reason which is always about them and how they are. The simplest version of which is that they’re asking you the question to prompt you to ask them the question so that they can then spend the next fortnight or longer answering it, dragging you into some drama they created to keep themselves from being bored.
Narcissists need life should be exciting all the time, boredom is frightening to them, it is the grim reaper sharpening its sheath… the only way to stay alive is to make things exciting, cause a drama, as that keeps boredom and thus death and the neant away from you.
Or something like that…
As much as I may seem to spend most of my time thinking about my self… I don’t actually think of myself that much. I sort of do but I sort of don’t, it’s all rather abstract…I use myself a lot as a template to understand others, and to explore the world of human experience.
I use myself and my own narcissism to understand narcissists.
Other people make more sense when you approach them through yourself without your self getting in the way… which it can do, it’s very good at turning into an obstacle, particularly when it’s on a high horse… high-horsing is also helpful in understand people like narcissists. Falling off the high horse is helpful for understanding why humiliating and embarrassing experiences are intensely useful to human development.
So being asked: How are you?
brings me back from the abstract into my body and into myself and often I have no idea how I am, not in a way that can be put into words. I’m obviously okay enough to be floating off in the abstract. When I’m physically ill, I’m totally in my body and often wish I wasn’t, but the body is the boss during those times.
I do keep tabs daily on how I am but I don’t discuss it much with myself unless it is relevant to something I’m cogitating…. for instance that lump on my knee (it’s still there, but isn’t impairing the movement of the knee as much as it was) has been a most interesting companion and inspiration for cogitation…
but if I answered – How are you? – by telling the person who asked me that question that my lumpy knee has made me ponder the notion of subservience in a manner which I’d never done before and that has led me to explore certain things which have nothing to do with a lumpy knee and yet they do further than before, and I have finally gotten an inkling of some understanding which I’ve totally missed many millions of times before (which I may forget as I have forgotten understanding before), which has helped me to see something in writing that makes writing not the focus, therefore when we read it’s not about the words… that really doesn’t work as an answer to that question.
I’m fine, how are you?