Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Good Lie

Alright. Good. Okay.

Those are the three things I hear the most in response to the question "How are you?"

I personally dislike that question. We're not really asking anything, we're stating a formality. No one really wants to hear "Well, my dog died and I had to eat burned toast for breakfast, I got a new pair of shoes and my favorite soap opera just started a new season, and the lack of sunshine makes me feel a little down."

Honestly, I think a lot of us don't care.

The lady at the Dollar Store who asks you that? She has to. It's her job. Do you think she cares? I don't know. I suppose that would depend on the Dollar Store Lady. Whenever they say that to me, I always respond "Good, how about you?" I think we sometimes forget the humanity and dignity of those people. I've gotten some of the most genuine smiles from people when I turn the question around on them. Just by recognizing our equality.

I also appreciate when people DON'T use good/alright/okay. When they actually let you have the truth. They don't give you their life's story or take it as licence to have a pity party then and there, but they say "Oh, I'm having one of those days." or "Not so great." I think that takes guts. I don't say that. I won't. If you ask, I'm good. All good, all the time.

If you are brave enough to tell the truth and show your heart, I look up to you.

In a way, I find it funny that we work so hard to protect ourselves. What's the worst that can happen? People get back up from everything. Even the unthinkable and the deadly. Lightening strikes. A miscarriage. Mine collapses. Mental illness. War. Not everyone does, but some people have.What makes the difference, I wonder? No matter who you are, there's someone like you. No matter what you've done, someone else has done it too. Secrets are almost comical to me, in a world where there is nothing new under the sun. Not to say I don't have my own. I'm just pointing out what a foolish person I am.

Yes, someone could hurt me with the things I hide. But perhaps hiding everything is just as destructive. Maybe the reason we feel so alone is because we prevent connections. People have hurt me with things I hesitated to tell. And what did I do? I blamed myself. "This is all your fault. If you hadn't been stupid enough to tell them in the first place, none of this would have happened."

It's hard to help your natural reaction, isn't it? It's hard to train yourself out of the "Good." lie. It's hard to change your natural reaction to betrayal and hurt, isn't it? Sometimes we need the good lie. Sometimes our natural reaction could be the best one. Yet I want to believe there is a difference between surviving and thriving. I want to believe we can do better than "alright" and that someone cares about how the Dollar General Lady is doing.

It's all so simple in concept and difficult in practice. I can sit here and blog about it all day. But will I tell the truth the next time someone states that little formality: "How are you?"

Probably not. I am not that brave.

But I will keep asking how the Dollar General Lady is. And I hope she smiles. And if she honors me with the truth, be it good or bad or somewhere in between, I will look up to her for breaking out of the box. For taking it deeper. For trusting me just a little bit. For inspiring me. For thriving instead of just surviving.

For not being afraid to tell the truth instead of just a pretty little lie.

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