Sometimes it can be rather nice to get knocked off your game by cultural differences. What brought this to mind was an afternoon spent with an Argentinian friend. She has the habit of asking me “how are you doing?” I respond with the usual shrug, smile and useless comment of “getting along”, which seems like less of a fib than ‘fine’. Now with most Americans, the initial question is usually meant to simply say “hello”, but no, she looked at me rather sternly, with her Latin intensity, and states again “No, I mean, how are you doing,,, man?” She stares at me patiently for an answer. I should know this about her by now as this is not the first time that she has used the English language on me to say exactly what she meant rather than some useless pleasantry. I’m trapped. Sometimes we don’t want to invite others into our heads. Sometimes we just don’t want to spend the time. Americans are often all about time. The American way is very safe. Sometimes, however, safety comes at the expense of depth or interest.
So, how am I doing,,, man? Much of the time, I feel rather normal and ordinary, just like any other time. A reasonable amount of time is spent engaged in something, or with someone, much as before. Some of the time I feel a bit lost. Sometimes, I feel great joy and excitement about the fun I am having at the moment, much as before. Occasionally, I feel a bit scared of the future, but this is surprisingly relegated to the fear of incapacity, dependence and the hardship that brings to all. On very rare occasions, I think about and imagine what I used to be able to do, with great, intense longing that, at that moment, makes me feel like a can not possibly endure this, something is about to burst.
Luckily, the amount of time I spend in each mental frame is properly arranged as above, and luckily, in descending order. (can you imagine saying ‘hello’ to everyone in this manner?)