Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beyond a surface question February 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I converted this image to black-and-white and upped the brightness. This was shot on the Minnesota Highway 19 curve just north of Vesta, my southwestern Minnesota hometown.

Sometimes travel through life is easy. Clear vistas. Clear vision. Sunshine and goodness. But other times life isn’t good. Storms and challenges prevail. Yet, the question remains the same, “How are you?” Do you answer honestly, or do you pretend all is fine? (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo from March 2012, photographed along Minnesota State Highway 19 just north of Vesta.)

“HOW ARE YOU?” I dislike that question. It’s trite and mostly a meaningless nicety.

Does anyone really want an honest answer?

When I’ve failed to respond with the expected “good,” eyes shift downward, feet fidget, uncomfortableness wedges in.

What if I’m not good? What if life isn’t great and fine and wonderful? Then what?

I will tell you I’m OK. And, if you’re listening, you may pause. Worry may fleet across your face. But, if you’re like most people, you won’t push. You’ll walk away.

Recently I told a friend I didn’t like the “How are you?” question. So now, whenever we see each other, she says, “It’s good to see you.” I like that. Those words are warm and welcoming and, because I know my friend, genuine.

Perhaps we all ought to try being a little more genuine with one another. Caring beyond casual surface conversation. Picking up on cues that maybe everything isn’t alright. And then, listening. Really listening.

If you ask the question “How are you?”, ask because you truly care. Not just to make polite conversation.


© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling