Ah the good ol’ greeting game. I’m heading toward you, it’s inevitable that I’m about to walk past you. I’ve seen you half a dozen times today but yet I feel compelled to ask. The conversation goes like this:
Greeting: “How are you?”
Answer: “Good, good. How are you?” (it's important to reassert the expected lie).
Greeter’s answer: “Good thanks.”
Or with any luck we might find ourselves in that odd circular conversation where I forget I asked you first and ask you again: “Good thanks. How are you?”
No one expects a real answer. In my experience most people don’t want a real answer, they wouldn’t know what to do with it. It just isn’t socially acceptable to simply respond “Shitty. How are you?” or “I would like to throw myself off a bridge.” People don't even like a very positive answer ... it makes them feel obliged to ask why and listen. You’ll be lucky just to catch a refreshing breeze blow off them as they whisk past you. I don't blame it on them ... really ... it's a cultural thing.
Back home it’s just as superficial but I like the island twist on the response. It goes like this:
Greeting: “How’s it goin?” or the ever popular “How she gettin on b’y?”
Answer: “Best kind b’y, best kind.”
I talked to my friend about this the other day – ok fine so I complained. I said why don’t we just say, “I acknowledge your presence in a way that is polite and socially acceptable. Please don’t feel the need to bother with additional superficial pleasantries.” We agreed that although that might be more accurate, it was a bit wordy and probably wouldn’t catch on. She said in the hallways at her work she simply says ‘hey’ and nods as she walks past, sometimes just a nod. She also told me in the movie Avatar they greet each other by saying “I see you.” I saw the movie but I have a memory like a goldfish so I didn’t remember that at all. But I thought wouldn’t it be great if we really saw everyone we greeted, if we really knew them.
Problem is, many of us don’t know our own selves very well let alone anyone else. Hard to have a sense of who anyone else is if you haven’t met yourself. I'll admit I don't know myself that well. It all got me to thinking (I know you’re shocked) when was the last time I was truly ‘the best kind’. I realized that I’m not quite sure but there was a period of time when my son was young when I did a lot of painting and writing and I count those as some of my happiest times. I can’t make him un-grow (not that I would - it's super cool to watch him grow up) but I can make time to write and paint and maybe just maybe I’ll figure out a bit about me in the process.
So this is my means to document this ongoing quest to know me & to become again the best kind - the best kind of me.
If you’re lucky in life you have someone who will ask "How are you?" and wait for your answer.
If you’re really lucky you can answer truthfully, “Best kind, b’y, best kind.”