I’ve had a good amount of people ask me how I’m doing, lately. It’s a pretty common question- we say it in some form to just about everyone we see, every day. I have a policy about lying, even little lies; I’ll evade like mad, and I’m an old pro at diversions, but I don’t like to lie. That turns this average, simple question into a real stumper most days. I know that it’s all form- that very few people are really asking how things are. It’s an opening gambit, not an invitation to get into the real muck of one’s daily life. I know that. But saying, oh, I’m fine, or worse, we’re great– it sticks in my mouth, every time, because it’s a lie.
I mostly choose diversion. When confronted with the question, I’ll bypass it altogether and go straight to weather. It sounds something like this- Q: “Hi! How are you?” A-“It’s another beautiful day.” “Happy to be here,” is also a good answer, but that only works if I am somewhere, and never on the phone. It is a lot less awkward in real life than it reads on the page, but it still makes me feel horribly socially stunted. I have a horror of over- disclosure (she says in her BLOG, I know, the irony) and I’m convinced that I’ll just blurt out the truth if I’m not hyper-vigilant.
Which is funny, really, because I have the hardest damned time telling anyone. I’ve tried to rely on the blog to do the dirty work for me, but I’m well aware it’s a coward’s way out. I’ve had several phone conversations where I just chicken out- I can feel it happening, like a slow- motion fall from my intentions into mediocre small talk. So if I’ve called you recently and the conversation was shapeless, rambling and insufferably inane, I’m sorry. I still haven’t managed to tell my daughter, despite having decided I’d do so six days ago; I just freeze up inside at the idea.
The real answer to how I’m doing is that I am doing. That’s it, just doing. I press forward, because motion makes me feel like everything is still humming along, unchanged. I have some rough days- days when nothing I write or type comes out right, when the words just don’t come, when my hands fail me, when I feel shaky and unsteady, when I am confused and lost, when my head just pounds, when I pretty much live in bed and wait for it to pass. More often, though, I have days where it’s all so minor- just a memory of the bad days, really- that I can pretend it’s not really happening until I have to stop and take a pill.
I still don’t know what this means- if it means anything– to me. I don’t know how I feel about any of it. I know I can’t stick my head in the sand and make it all go away- as comforting as that might be. I know I have to get proactive- run more, eat better, sleep right, make good choices- and I know I need to start that right now, although I’m having problems getting started. Tomorrow, I think, every day.
I am trying to ground myself in the small moments of my life- because that really is all that there is, the small moments one after another- instead of getting mired in the scary unknowns of the bigger picture. I fail, but I keep trying. That’s the one thing I’ve ever truly excelled at, really: trying.
(Today's post brought to you by Samuel Beckett, the genius behind one of my favorite quotes: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.")