Thursday, February 24, 2011

"How are you?"

Being a student at a Christian school I find myself consistently affronted with this question. It is to me a deceptively simple question which is in reality very difficult to answer. Lately when I am presented with this query I am speechless for a few moments, I don't want to be shallow, lie or give more information than people want to hear. So what should I say? How is this question best answered?
More often than not the simple answer is "good, how are you?" of course this answer is met with dissatisfaction. On the one hand if the person asking doesn't really want to know how you are doing then that succinct answer is great and they feel like they fulfilled their social duty in asking you, but you might be left feeling the dearth of their care and maybe a bit unresolved. You are unwilling to dump your emotional load on them until they ask and if they don't you have certainly been the victim of a terrible crime. On the other hand if the inquirer really wants to know how you are doing then you have not met their expectations with a simple, "good" or "fine" or "okay". They may have been expecting you to delve deeply into the emotional and complex parts of your soul. A simple answer, when given to that caring person, is usually countered by something like, "yeah, but how are you really doing?" to which they expect the essential truth behind your painted mask to reveal itself in all its burdened, unholy, glory. If you're in a hurry this is just annoying. If you've heard it thirty times that day it's also annoying. Who new that fine, meant Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional? I was under the impression it meant "fine". Now this doesn't mean that everyone who wants to know how their friends are doing shouldn't ask because its annoying. May it never be so. however, maybe there should simply be a little less reading into simple answers, or maybe there should be more thoughtful answers. Trying to come up with a different greeting than "how are you?" may be an appropriate solution.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Community -

The other day I had a moment where there was a lull in an otherwise busy day and happened to wander into a very pleasant conversation. Some women were reminiscing about the days when we had laundry hanging outside on a line. Well that was the apparent subject matter anyways. The underlying idea was a sort of nostalgia about the community which they enjoyed as children. Laundry is one of those simple things that reveals and represents a sense of community which seems to have been more easy to come by in past years. They observed the openness of putting your delicates out on a rope for all the neighbors to see and in return seeing their linens, blowing in the breeze. You could watch the neighborhood's children growing up as you saw first diapers, then tiny dresses and little overalls. Now we carefully stow our laundry in washers and dryers, efficient and low profile. In a similar fashion, families carefully sequester themselves in their homes and leave quickly in their traveling box, tinted windows make them a little less visible. Things now are fast, they work so perfectly, life is a well-oiled machine! That means relationships are a bit farther off on the radar. When you can drive by the old neighbor mowing his lawn instead of having to walk by there's no danger of being stopped for a conversation, that might make you late to work. Things fit so well in boxes and the more private the better.

Wait -- that doesn't seem quite right.

Community is beautiful.

People laughing, talking, working together to create a better more nurturing living environment, thats more like it. I'm afraid that that form of community has flown away on the wings of time. And yet, hope is not altogether gone, communities still exist and people still speak to one another. O God let us not forget the blessing and yes the necessity of the comfort and company of our brothers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

We're Back

I only put in one earring this morning before leaving my room, I'm having trouble typing, I have no appetite, my eyes are red and burning. Every muscle in my body aches so I can barely lift my arms or legs. I am having trouble focusing and when people ask me questions I have to ask them to repeat themselves, sometime more than once. I keep tripping while I walk across perfectly smooth surfaces and my vision goes fuzzy from time to time. My brain feels as though is shutting down one compartment at a time. No I'm not old, no I'm not dying of any terminal disease. I am a sophomore, nursing major in the Torrey program with an alter ego who is in ROTC three times a week. 'Welcome back troops' reads the banner announcing our dorm mixer, intending to get the students excited about being back at school. Don't get me wrong I am happy to be back, 'a life without learning is like being blind and can't see' but I could do without the symptoms of a mentally ill patient. On the plus side I have already read 1/3 of the Psalms, Machiavelli's 'The Prince" and the first book of Edmund Spenser's "Faerie Queene" and just beginning 'A midsummer Night's Dream'. Welcome back troops! Fight for an education, for self-actualization, for meaning, for friends, for food, for rapidly diminishing parking spaces, for sleep. Good luck all.