Sunday, May 24, 2015

How Ya Doin'?

"'How ya doin'?' I always think, 'What kind of question is that?' And I always reply, 'A bit too early to tell,' " ~ Christopher Hitchens - Love Poverty and War" Journeys and Essays 

A friend of mine once told me he is no longer greeting people with the seemingly requisite "How are you," or, "How are you doing" greetings. The logic here is no one really wants to know how we're doing. Really, do they? Imagine the look of horror we'd have received from friends or acquaintances if any of us would have responded honestly while in the throes of attempting to fix our children, or during any of our challenges along our journeys … insert recollection harp music here.

"How are you?"

"Well, we just had two large men escort our son from our home this morning at 3 a.m. They took him on a red-eye flight to a wilderness camp were he'll bivouac in snow surrounded by the high southern desert of Utah because he is addicted to pot and prescription drugs and was killing himself. Hopefully after 8 weeks of that he'll be cleansed of the chemicals in his body. We'll (note the emphasis on we'll, not he'll) be following this with 6 to 12 months at a therapeutic boarding school for as long as we can afford it and hopefully after all that we'll have our baby back.

"So, how're you guys doin'?"

The checker at the grocery asks me how I'm doing. Well meaning, often sweet but possibly a corporate directive, I feel she doesn't want to know. How could she? I am one among hundreds for whom she will scan on that particular day. That's a lot of encapsulated life stories to consider.

I respond, politely, "Good," and hope her day is as "good" as mine is in the moment.

The query how are you doing begs comparison narratives. The various levels of how we are all doing morphs into a competition sport, a comparison chart. We gauge how we are doing on an imagined scale of 1 to 10 based on the ebullience of our response contrasted with the response of our inquisitor.

I've stopped asking people how they are doing.

I now simply say, "It's good to see you."

The relief is palpable. Recipients are grateful to not be cajoled into a corner where their life is being compared to every human with whom they will be put into contact this particular day - no wonder so many people never leave their homes, never see the light of day, or the lights of the nighttime.

Friends and acquaintances who receive this message, yes the message, not the greeting or question, seem pleased. All of us need to have our goodness reaffirmed. To some it's a shock. It's out of the box. It's one of those things about saying "It's good to see you," that I love. It may be words some of the beneficiaries of the message haven't heard in a long time.


For me, the affirmation keeps me focused on my journey, on the now, on the positive, focused on moving forward. I don't know why, but it does.

Parents of children who have crossed into the emptiness of addiction run the risk, daily, of losing focus, straying off the journey pathway into the bramble-filled detours of fixing, obsessing and enabling.

We know we are there when we ask our children the unsolicited question, "How are you doing?"

Instead, we can visualize an encounter with our children where we say, "It's great to see you."

For our children, we can add the word, "… always."

Saying. "It's good to see you," transports us out of the past and into the present. In that instant when we greet the person presented to us we are in the present! "It's good to see you," is immediate. It is affirming that all who are under the warm blanket of those words are, at least in that moment and in the now, validated and actualized simply for who they are.

"It's good to see you," is liberating. It requires no response. When we say this we are not fumbling in our minds for any answer to the boomerang response - I'm good, how are you? We are not asking for a fraudulent decree of anyone's state of mind. This is none of our business. Instead we focus on the person and our feelings. We focus on our present.

"It's good to see you," is a blessing we can give to others and blessings bestowed come back tenfold.

"It's good to see you," has transformative powers and can become a mantra for living our lives. All people, places, events, victories and trials become experiences in the now from which we can draw strength and hope, catapulting us along our recovery journeys. In a constant and ever-immediate celebration of the NOW we get out of our heads and plunge enthusiastically into whatever adventure we encounter. We are not comparing, We are neither dreading the future nor regretting the past.

Life is, simply put, good to see!

… keep coming back

"How YOU doin'?" ~ Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Friends