How Are You?

29 Jan

There are some works that invoke a though upon contact with the brain, and these return an image, an ideal or a concept. They shape in your brain before you have had time to think, like swirls of smoke, and form an idea of what you perceive that word to look like, how it feels and what it means.

One such word is lonely. As soon as the sound makes contact with our ears we think of being alone, possibly identifying it with age, and we often think of suffering. A person with no one to pick up the phone to, no friend to meet for a lunch date or no mum to pop in on of a weekend.

But lonely isn’t a word that always means alone. It’s possible to be in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, surrounded by people you know or nameless faces, and feel entirely lonely. That not one person who asks “how are you?” is genuinely waiting to hear what the response is. It’s a phrase that is so regularly followed with “fine thanks, you?” that it’s part of a robotic make up, a dance if meeting words, rather than a direct response to an interested question and it leaves you feeling a bit hollow.

We live in a society where we are constantly surrounded by people, acquaintances, but how many of those people do you actually count as friends, who mean something to you and will run to catch you if you start to feel like the carpet may be pulling from beneath your toes?

Just a thought.


15 Responses to “How Are You?”

  1. elroyjones January 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    People in my business life ask all day long “How are you?”, it’s inane and insulting, like they even care or I’d waste my precious time wanting them to!

  2. twindaddy January 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I’m not a very sociable person so I try not to make eye contact or even talk to people I don’t know if I can help it. I don’t know why this is and I can’t explain it, but behaving this way is comfortable to me.

  3. I'd Rather Be In Iceland January 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    The answer, sadly, is not too many, which you don’t usually find out until you actually need them.

  4. 1smiles January 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    I strike up conversations with people I meet in line at the grocery store or at the mall or the library. Sometimes, people really do care. And if given a reason, like a smile or saying hi.. they will respond in return.
    While Christmas shopping for my granddaughter who wanted a particular kind of doll.. I began a conversation with another lady looking for the same thing. During the course of the afternoon.. we ran into each other three other times. Now we’ve not become best friends, but it sure added some light and humor to a busy shopping day.

  5. observingthescene January 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Tink, I’ve enjoyed lots of your posts, but this may be my favorite. Reading it reached a place within me that prompted a teardrop, and that’s not easy to do. Thanks for the insight!

  6. misswhiplash January 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    A smile makes all the difference.. If one is lonely , having someone to smile at you brings a wealth of warmth knowing that just one person cared enough to smile.

    So don’t walk past a stranger, smile…

  7. Audrey January 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    You’re spot on with this! Lonely can exist in a crowded room, a busy intersection. But “alone”? That’s a different word for me altogether. So similar, yet “alone” is where I think of quiet peace, a chance to gather thoughts and meditate, to simply be.

    And “how are you” and the expected response is a funny thing, isn’t it? It is enough to make you feel lonely. And oddly exists in almost every language I know of. There’s always that greeting and asking on wellbeing that isn’t searching for the truth, and the perfunctory reply that is equally dishonest. An odd play of words turned social dance, really. I didn’t notice it so much until I learned other languages and was confused by polite talk taking precedence over honest dialogue.

    A very pensive post, thanks for getting the rest of us thinking! 🙂

  8. Go Jules Go January 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Soooo back in London, huh?? (I know. That was cheeky. I couldn’t help myself. I really hope you’re not feeling too lonely.)

    You’re right, though. Loneliness has very little to do with anything outside of the self. There are NOT many people I feel like I can genuinely count on.

    • tinkerbelle86 February 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Hahah Jules YES I AM and it all feels like a really distant dream! But New Yoik / New Joisey is definitely on my list next time I’m on your side of the world. We can stalk Second Husband together. I’ve got your back! 🙂

  9. prenin January 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    I am surrounded by people who are intent on using me for their own purposes: People whose smiles never reach their eyes…

    Love and hugs Tinks!


  10. The Byronic Man January 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    I just finished reading David Byrne’s “How Music Works” which is amazing and engaging and cool. In it, though, he talks about modernization and isolation and that a big component we overlook is how as music was available pre-recorded to just listen to (to say nothing of headphones and car stereos), we stopped learning to play music – and to play it together – something that had been a, if not the, cornerstone of joy and socialization since pre-history. An interesting point.

  11. Team Oyeniyi January 31, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Are you OK Tinkerbelle? This sounds a little sad. I know I’ve been remiss in my visits, but I have finished my book, so I will be back more often!!

    Smile and the world smiles with you.

    But I agree. In fact Mr O and I had a similar night tonight – both stressed to the max for different reasons. What does “How are you?” really mean if the asker doesn’t want the answer?

    We did kiss and make up! 🙂

    • tinkerbelle86 February 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      I’m good, I can see how it would look like that though. Thanks for the concern, and the book recommendation on Twitter. HOW EXCITING!!

  12. 1stpeaksteve February 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    There are countless situations in which a person can be surrounded with people yet feel invisible, left out, or ignored. Traveling makes me feel this way sometimes. You leave parts of yourself in places you love and sometimes you can be in your home town and feel like you do not belong there.

    Our society is also connecting us in so many ways yet dividing us in others. When you see 2 people at the same table and they are both fiddling with their phones or computers and not even speaking to one another, you can see that they are feet apart in presence yet miles away in their hearts.

    Great post!

  13. Marvin the Martian February 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I never ask how people are, because I don’t care. 😉 A simple “howdy,” a smile, and a tip of the hat is all you need to do to dispel people’s loneliness without getting tied up in a meaningless conversation.

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