You should ask people, especially those close to you, “How are you?” Its a really tough question for anyone to answer and at the same time it holds lots of issues for the asking. Most the time you get, “fine, how are you?” Or maybe a “note to bad, but things could be better.” That middle ground answer is tough because how you respond is now in question. Do you stop and reply, “is there anything I could help with” Or just a, “hope things improve” and keep walking?
And then there is the cry for help. When you ask “how are you” and the reply ranges from “horrible”, “life sucks or is over or I can’t cope with it”, “my (parents, job, spouse, boss, kids, other drivers) are crazy”, “I’m sick and I have this illness” or “someone close is sick”. Those separate us all. I’ve responded to these in many ways. I try to think that I’m a compassionate person, more so than most I hope. But I have regrets about some of my reactions as we all have had.
Sometimes I’ve misread the next reply as its private and they don’t want to talk, when in reality they have wanted to. Sometimes its my own uncomfortable position that mutes my reply. Most of the time I believe I do the right thing. Like listening to people. Like helping offer solutions or ideas. Sometimes helping them refocus or weigh whats bothering them with a more objective scale. It could be putting a few dollars in their hands.
I know I can’t save the world, or at least that is what the head of HR told me as a manager a long time ago when I had the complex that everyone was good and that I could turn them around if they weren’t good. For people whose life is constant drama because of the decisions they make, are not going to drag me into a mess. I wish them the best. I will even help if I can. But it gets lower on the priority list.
But when it’s not those people and those genuine souls that need assistance, what to do. And it’s not even that. The decision to help or not can go both ways for the closest friends and family to total strangers. That time I stopped at 3am to ask a couple of bikers sporting colors, stopped on a country road, if they need help, hoping they are nice guys. And they were, I think I surprised them by just stopping my car and asking if they were ok or needed help.
Hell, it doesn’t take much to ask a stranger that. Especially when you see people struggling. I’ve learned that in just passing people in the streets or in day-to-day life that a simple smile can turn around someones day. It has mine. Sometime just a few minutes listening to someone explain how tired they are or what the kids did can make a difference.
Sometimes its going to be an ongoing commitment when you ask that question. Things like illnesses. Or deep financial issues. Or loves that are lost. Things that one conversation don’t turn around. But that first step is a simple “Hey, how are you?”
Random Thoughts of the Day
I had two or three good random thoughts and then I heard the refrigerator calling me and by the time I got back downstairs they were gone.
Brown sugar and Old Bay on Grilled salmon. I can eat that all day.
I hope I don’t realize the importance of sleep too late in life.
Help someone feel loved each day. Even if its yourself.
I bet if I did these when I wasn’t so tired, they would probably make sense.