Learn to Ask Better Questions

Ah yes, once again here I am gracing the pleather couches of my local McDonalds.  Trust me, if there was a better option that offered free wifi, power, shelter, coffee, and most importantly– seclusion and anonymity, I’d opt for it. With that being said, it has become my ritual to sleep like shit, wake up hours before the sun, and head here for coffee and connection. Today, I have a limited schedule, so I might as well put finger to keyboard and get this draft together.

Now back to your regularly scheduled pensiveness…

In response to my last post regarding demons, I want to say “thank you” to those who reached out. Though the message may have been a bit abstract, my writing this post now should reassure you I was not on death’s door days ago.

What I want to get at with this post stems from a question my mom asked me the day I posted last. She asked (in her usual concerned fashion) “how are you doing?” With which I responded “I don’t like that question and am not going to answer.” My mom is a champ. She has endured (and so has the rest of my family and friends) years of deployments, overseas living, traveling, and only seeing me in person two-weeks a year. Through all of that, I still don’t like or respect the question.

Asking someone “how are you?” or “how are things” is such a shit way of showing concern.

Now, I can’t present this argument without first saying–even this week–I’ve asked these questions to friends.

To everyone’s credit, I don’t think we really know how to express concern in a constructive manner. It’s icky to talk about anything that isn’t positive. To dig into the shit people are stewing on. The cancer their brother has. The drinking problem that stays hidden from the surface. The family member who overdosed. Finances overcoming…It’s all icky, shitty, nasty, genuine, life.

Now I don’t believe that anything makes you or I feel a certain way. Rather, we associate a response with a feeling. If I tell you “you are a piece of shit” it may or may not have an effect– dependent on whether we know each other and how I rate in your life. However, if you are a complete stranger, I ask how you are and you launch into the excruciating details of how you were raped at 19 by your husband who also tried to kill you (yes, true story) within 30 minutes of us meeting, I’m gonna feel a certain type of way.

Moving on. When someone asks me how I am doing or how are things going, so many thoughts come to mind. Am I supposed to tell you about my health? How about my financial well-being? How about the positive experiences between our contact? Or, maybe, you want to know my opinion on the other tourists who travel New Zealand.

How many times have you asked someone how they are and they immediately take a deep breath before answering in a restricted manner?

I don’t really give a shit if you or anyone else thinks that I am overthinking this. The truth is, I don’t give a fuck about sports. How does this relate? Sports is more openly discussed than feelings or thoughts on life. Why?!

I take pride in noticing the layer of reality that others don’t. You’re busy watching “the big game” and I’m lost in why this season the jerseys are designed differently than last season.

My belief is you should speak and act with purpose. Of course we don’t have a quota on our words, but maybe we should. How different would life be if we were limited to only so many words per day? How would you use them? Would you prioritize what you said or didn’t say?

No maybe I’m lost in my own head, but I truly feel like the communication we have is incredibly superficial. Instead of asking how I am, maybe just say “hello”. Acknowledge my existence. If you care about how I am doing–truly– then ask. Don’t waste my time with your pre-programmed feigned interest.

Rant over.


One thought on “Learn to Ask Better Questions

  1. Thanks for the latest post. As you already know, when I ask how you are I am genuinely interested. How you respond or don’t is definitely up to you and what you care to share. I will do the same for you. That being said, there are times when I am just happy to see you are still out there finding your way when a nugget is posted on Facebook or Your Quiet Voice. I love you always – blemishes and warts and beautiful smile and all. Your home for endless hugs – M


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