Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Am Okay

"Good morning," she says.

They greet her well enough. They start talking. They start sharing. They start gossiping.

"Good morning," she says.

"How are you?" they ask.

"I am okay," she says.

They talk. They share lives. They share new information. They leave and continue with their day.

"Good morning," she says.

They do it all over again. Day after day, they greet and talk and everything's fine until it's not. And then they wonder.

"I am okay," she says. She talks about her day, about the movie she just finished watching, about the new song she was listening to. She talks about the person in the next cube. She asks about her workmate's family. She asks about her friend's friend. She asks about the weather.

They talk. It's all normal. They're all okay. Until they're not.

"Good morning," they say. But she doesn't answer.

"I am okay." She smiles. Her smile, they assume, was her answer. Her smile, they assume, meant she was okay.

She's not.

"Good morning." Help me.

Look at me. Really look at me. Help me. Save me from this smile. Save me from this cry. Save me from this facade. Look at me. Ask me how I really am. Or don't ask me how I really am. How will you know? How can you not know? I am not okay.

I am searching for someone to see beyond me. See beyond my smile and find me. Find me in my corner. Find me in the shadows of the life that has suddenly overwhelmed me. Look for me. Find me. I am right here.

I hide behind curtains of routine. I hide behind witty lines and sincere laughter. Sincere laughter that hurts. Sincere laughter that burns with tears. I hide behind truth because no one asks beyond the truth. No one asks for the truth.

My life is shattered. My path is dark. My hope is missing. Help me look for it. Help me feel secure. Help me know that I can move on from this. That I can move from this. That there is a reason to move at all.

Ask me how I really am. Wait for me to say I'm not okay. Wait for me to pour my heart out to you. Don't be afraid. I won't need you to listen for long. I won't need you to help me with practical advice. I won't need you to do anything but ask. Really ask. Really see me.

I am not okay.

"Good morning," she says.

They talk. She smiles. They go on with their lives.

***

How many more people do we need to see broken before we realize that our genuine fellowship is not at all genuine? How many more people do we need to see walking away before we realize that we are not addressing the deeper issue? How many more people do we need to find "okay" before we realize that they are not?

Almost every day, we ask at least one person how they are. Almost every day, we hear the same answer and we don't follow up.

"I'm okay."

Are you really?

For the one asking:
Are you so easily satisfied with an "I'm okay" answer? Are you so easily convinced that life is good and life is okay for the other person? Granted, life may be doing well for the other person, but okay is not a good enough answer. Why leave the question with that answer? Why jump into a different topic when "How are you?" is a deep enough dive into another person's life to quench any other topic? Why stop at "I'm okay" when okay has never been true?

For the one asked:
Tell the truth. Be honest. Don't be afraid. People will listen.

For the one asking:
Listen.

How can we help if we don't know you need help? How can you be helped if you don't ask for help? How can we all be truly and sincerely "okay"?

One day. A world with genuine people. One day. Someday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

While Waiting

Overthinking dude's perspective

I found her there, by the fountain where most couples and noisy teenagers hang out. She was alone, looking around, not minding anyone. She smiled occasionally to herself, probably remembering something funny. I couldn't help myself then.

I started to approach her. My heart was pounding. I've never done this before. Would she think I'm a stalker? Would she think I'm weird? Would she run away and report me to the police? I checked myself quickly. I was dressed okay, decent enough.

Few steps left and she turned and stared right at me, her smile frozen but her eyes alive. I stared back at her but looked down briefly, trying not to be rude. But when I looked up, she was still looking at me. Her face filled with changing micro-expressions. She seemed to be thinking of a million things. I was thinking of only one.

"Hi." I waved at her slightly. She broke her stare and looked down, gently laughing at herself. "What's funny?" I asked.

"Nothing." She smiled.

***

What went on in her head

Hmm where are they? I'm hungry. Where should I eat? Not chicken again. I need to eat healthy. Fruits. Just fruits? I'll be hungry before I go to sleep. But I have cereal at home, so I guess that's okay. But fruits are expensive. How about rice. Rice with chicken? Budget friendly. No, rice with beef. Oh ramen. Ramen seems nice right now. But not in my budget. Where can I buy cheap ramen? Hmm. Value meal 4 then? But it doesn't keep me full for long. What's this guy doing? Why is he staring at me? He looks familiar. Where did I see him before? Oh at the dimsum. Hmm dimsum. I'll just buy juice instead of soft drinks. Why is he still staring at me? Do I really look hungry? I'm just hungry, dude. Stop staring at me. Oh wait, I'm staring at him too. Oops. I like his jacket though. I'll probably just buy nuggets.

***

This is what happens when you make me wait when I already have to go home. :)