Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Midweek Inspiration: Daily Platitudes

I'm Fine, How Are You? 

I was taking my little 20 minute walk today, noticing the pretty roses in bloom and the immaculate lawns of the neighborhood I was walking through, when I began to think about how people interact with one another. How we say so little and yet so much to one another, even when we interact for just a second and never see that person again. 

I encountered two women during my walk. One lady was walking her dog, a gorgeous retriever who appeared to be much more interested in smelling things than actually walking. After exchanging good mornings I remarked at the beauty of her pet and she smilingly told me that they weren't "making much progress" due to the dog's incessant desire to sniff here and there. I told her that he was "stopping to smell the roses." Smart dog to take the time to do so. I don't think he really cared if he was making progress or not. He was too busy enjoying the moment. 

As I rounded another corner I was met by a briskly moving woman of about my age, give or take a few years. Dressed for exercise success, her rapid pace told me this was a person determined to get in her miles. My own leisurely gait paled in contrast. She did flash me a brilliant smile as she passed by calling out, "Good Morning, How Are You?" I smiled back assuring her I was fine and hoped she was too. "Oh yes, I'm fine," she called and went on her way leaving me to ponder, as I often do when I walk. 

How often do we exchange these daily platitudes with people we encounter? The "How are you's" and "I'm fine, hope you are too's" that have become so much a part of our culture that we don't even think about what we are really asking. Of course, I realize that most people are not going to suddenly start telling a stranger they meet on the street all of their personal problems or even the joys happening in their life. But sometimes, these daily platitudes aren't just used with strangers. They are used with friends, co-workers and even family members. It's a way of "being nice" to someone without really letting them in, sharing in their problems, and helping to carry their burdens (and their joys) for just a little while. In this age of technology, human encounters are becoming fewer and fewer. I heard on a recent news show that by 2020, spouses will have more interactions each day with their devices than with their spouse. How sad is that?! Is listening to one another becoming a lost art?

Anyway, as I walked away from Speedwalker, I said a prayer for her and for the other lady with the retriever. I prayed that the Lord would bless them and help them with any problems they were having in their lives. Because, you see, I know that neither of them were "fine." They may have been OK in that moment, but none of us are truly "fine." There are always concerns, problems, issues to be dealt with and, yes, joys mixing in with daily living. That's just life. 

Amazing what one can think about when taking a little 20 minute walk. I think the dog had the best lesson to teach me. Stop and smell the flowers....and don't worry so much about making progress. 

Oh...by the way....I'm fine and I hope you are too....

Until Next Time,

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.  I Timothy 2:1

*I love comments from my readers and hope you will take a moment to leave one!


Clearissa said...

Such a sad thought that by 2020 spouses will spend more time with devices than with their spouses. But I can certainly see it coming to fruition. We do just use these niceties in passing without a thought. Well, some do. Thank you for the reminder.

Sharon said...

Debbie, this post really spoke to me in so many ways. I once read an article where the writer had similar concerns about platitudes and people not really connecting or talking to each other. He wrote that rather than the words "How are you?", he wanted to say, "How is your heart today?" I liked that phrase, and your post today reminded me of it.

Sharon said...

I had to comment one more time because I forgot to say that I loved the message that you received from the retriever on your walk. What a great message from a wonderful messenger--a dog! I'm a firm believer that we can all learn from children and animals.

Karen said...

I love these posts that are thought-provoking. So many times I've been in the "How are you?" "Fine thanks..." moments and like you said, I can speak for myself when saying I'm anything but "fine." Granted, we don't tell strangers our troubles, but I like your idea of praying for people you encounter because we all certainly need it. The "how are you" questions happen ALL the time at work and I know most of the people asking are just saying words, not even thinking about what they are asking. When they don't stop and look at you, you know they aren't asking because they care. Very sad. That's a startling statistic about the devices, but I can see that happening. I agree with Sharon about the dog, a wonderful messenger and an example of living in and enjoying the moment.

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thank you Clearissa, Sharon and Karen for your thoughtful comments about this post. I think all of us tend to give and receive these "how are you" comments and it is just a part of our culture. I'm trying to think more, though, about really being able to listen to others that I know and love on a daily basis and, in return, to be really listened to as well. Hope you lovely ladies have a wonderful day!