Old people have mad skills…


[Alternate title: “You are worth my time.  I find you interesting and I want to know more about you.”]

My grade 11 English teacher was from Russia, and I was privileged to hear her stories of her life there, the way the government took away her citizenship, and how she arrived in Canada “stateless.”  One of the things she said she found most difficult in terms of adjusting to life in Canada was the “Hey, how are you?”  Here, we say it in passing, as we’re zooming by someone, never expecting anything other than “Good, you?”  She used to stop and say something like, “well I’m doing alright; I had a lovely evening last night; me and my daughter went to…” only to realize that the person was down the hall and out of ear shot.  It’s become little more than an alternative to “hi” (or “sup” if you’re from da ‘hood, as I am :p).  Is it a North American habit?  Are we too busy on this side of the Atlantic to stop and see how our beloved fellow persons are? 

But maybe it’s a generational thing?  I work with a number of people who are really… well, old (hee-hee, forgive me ladies!).  They’ve got it right.  When they ask me how I’m doing, they actually want to know how I’m doing.  They want to sit with me for two minutes and get caught up on my life, and then they want to tell me how they’ve been keeping since I last saw them.  It’s so precious, and I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.  It really is precious, and I think they’ve got the right idea! 

I like the term, doing life together.   I am practicing this!  I am a student of doing life together.  Woo hoo!


3 thoughts on “Old people have mad skills…

  1. Shanana boat says:

    I missed this post, but I like it muchly!

    And I totally agree. So many don’t mean the “How are yous” that come out of their mouths. Let’s make a point of repairing this!

  2. Mike says:

    I found when I came to England from South Africa (as if you didn’t know that already, but for refernce for those of you reading this who have no idea who I am) that people used to also ask “how are you” (or in British English they say “you alright?” or with a London/Estuary English (no, not Cockney accent, there is a difference) they say “a’wight?” (they substitute Rs with Ws).

    I used to say “yeah blah blah” by which time they had switched off. I found it disconcerting.

    It’s not just a North American thing. I think it is a youth/patience thing. Not sure whether South Africans want to hear how are you etc.

    Now try this. If someone asks how you are, if you say “I am amazing” or “Actually , I am GREAT!” and I find they give you a puzzled look, like you’re nuts. I found that since no-one says they’re anything other than “fine” it’s a social crime to be anything other than conformist. Underlying thoughts for why I am amazing or great? I don’t NEED anything. I may WANT stuff but I don’t NEED anything. I have my health, I have my family, I have air, I have clothing, I have shelter. If I hold my breath, wherever or whenever, my world does not collapse. At any one moment in time or space I have enverything I have to sustain me. In that sense, what more could I ask for?

    Okay it’s hardly a comment, it’s a blog in a blog, but that’s what happens. Sometimes.


  3. Mike says:

    “Doing life together” also means you’re doing jail time, you do know that, right? 😉

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