How are you?

When I first came to the US, I had to reorient to a different way of responding to the question how are you? Where I am from, it is a question asked among friends and only if you have time for a conversation. Here it is used more as a quick hi or an invitation for a brief exchange.

Since a briefer answer is expected, I have to condense it into a couple of words or sentences. So what to pick?

As awakeness, all is fine. Whatever happens is awakeness itself, so it is outside of anything that can be called good or bad, fine or not.

There is also a quiet joy in any experience. A quiet joy in experience itself, independent of the content of that experience.

I can be caught up in stories or not. When I am, there is drama and struggle to some extent. When I am not, there is clarity.

Then there are the conventional and cultural views on situations. Situations are seen as generally good and desirable or not.

And each of these can be more in the foreground or background. For instance, when what I am is more in the foreground, the question doesn’t make sense and whatever I say is clearly recognized as just a story, playing a game.

In answering briefly the question how are you? I can speak from either of these layers. I can say fine, because it is not inaccurate, no matter what happens. I can come from being caught up in stories or not. I can mention something happening in my life, and people will take it as good or not.

Most of the time it is pretty simple. I can say fine or good. I can mention something happening in my life. I can notice to what extent I am caught up in stories about it. I can notice how it is received.

Initial outline…

  • how are you doing
    • as awakeness, fine
    • quiet joy in any experience
    • caught up in stories (drama) or not (aware of awakeness/quiet joy)
    • conventional views on situations
    • practical: fine (not inaccurate) or a brief mention of something happening in my life

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