BUFFALO, NY – “How are you doing?”
It’s one of those phrases that we throw around. Most of the time, the words fall out of our mouths without even realizing what we’re saying. But even when we are really interested in how someone is doing, how interested are we, really?
I have learned through the years that there are some people of whom you can’t ask that question, because they will tell you, in painstaking detail, exactly how they are.
Even worse, is when you ask someone you love “How ya doin,” and you really want to know, but that person won’t share their pain or their joy with you.
When someone responds FINE because they don’t want to burden you with their troubles, or even worse, when they don’t want to seem too prideful and won’t share their jubilation… that hurts.
Having someone be willing to listen to what really vexes you is a great gift. Having someone trust you with their inner most thoughts is a great gift, too.
But what made me really think about all this, was a friend — closer to acquaintance than BFF– asking me with care and sincerity how I was doing. A blanket ask. Open ended.
Not overly concerned, or concerned for the sake of drama, just honestly interested in my well-being. No strings attached. Beautifully simple.
I was taken aback a bit. Here’s someone who doesn’t know, but cares about whatever it is.
Asking that question, and meaning it — for my benefit — is a big commitment.
It was wonderful. It was powerful. It was the sort of reaching out that I have to imagine happens less and less in an age where more and more communication and more “being a friend” is done through fingertips on the glass face of a smart phone. But there is was, honest to goodness, real human care and compassion.
Like everyone else, I have all kinds of troubles and concerns. Piles of nonsense vexing me. This to worry about, that to be angry at. All that was true at that moment as well.
But you know what? I answered, honestly, “I’m doing pretty damn good.”
Although I didn’t, I should have followed it up with, “Because you care.”