I asked a friend on Facebook what was up today, what was new, that kind of thing.... the interchange went like this: --------------------------------------------------------- ME: what do you know, stranger?
FRIEND: I know lotsa stuff. What's up with you?
ME: I'm just the same old dude, doing the same old stuff. People ask me all the time, "what's new?" I freeze. I don't know what to say. I'm not even good at just stringing along a line of bull that says nothing but sounds impressive like it's something. I take a hard swallow of reality and offer up the same tried and true response: "nothing much."
It hurts. It's painfully obvious that the air was wasted on the question alone. People know better, usually. In a world of courtesies and civil interchanges, the ones who know better, but have to ask anyway (as politeness would dictate) come away from the experience ever more convinced that there really is nothing there.
I feel bad for them. They've been left wanting. It's the reason I stopped writing Christmas letters, because before I realized that most normal people actually hate those wretched, desperate attempts to show you're a witty S.O.B., it occurred to me that I was repeating myself. A lot. Oh sure, the kids get older and have new experiences (ah... youth), and occasionally the dog can write one to mix it up. It was the same old crap served up on a different plate year after year.
Maybe I am a deep S.O.B., and it's important for people to realize that, even though everything on the outside stays the same, never changing, never compelling, never really worth asking about. A dude so rich in thought who's never really been anywhere and never really done anything and doesn't really know much at all.
I know you know lots of stuff. How are you?
FRIEND: Maybe you could try really letting them know the truth of what is new and then they will stop asking. For example... the top five things that are new in my life that I would probably not advertise, but could would be:
1. Weaned myself from antidepressants 2. Got in a fight with my neighbor because her daughter is a bully 3. Watched Fat Actress for the first time and kind of enjoyed it 4. Admitted to my husband that I would choose my son over him 5. Came to the realization that I do actually probably drink too much
Then there are the top five things that that I would share, but realize nobody cares about:
1. My child's loose tooth 2. Home improvement projects 3. Pets 4. Weather 5. Cars
So, I like you... just say, 'nothin' much.'
But, usually when I ask someone whats new, I really kind of want to know the real stuff~like my first list, but nobody ever shares that info. Bunch of jabber really. My mother in law asks what's new and then interrupts me and tells me about all her friends with cancer who I don't know.. I really don't care about that, especially because she asked ME what was new, I didn't even ask her.
ME: I do like your first list better. What were you taking? Was it a fist fight or a war of words? That's tough stuff.. all of it.
FRIEND: I was on a low dose of Prozac for only about 2 months. I hated it. I was having hormonal issues as well as situational depression over the kitchen episode and it can't even be described how weird/hard it is to have your baby turning 18 and graduating. I was a basket case, however, I hated the fatigue and numbness the medication provided. It took away a part of me that, though I don't sometimes like, is a big part of who I am and who I have come to know. The fight was a huge war of words, that I only regret because I spoke a secret truth that hurt someone. Things are better all the way around now. I wish the sun would come out though... I've had enough cold and rain.
ME: (nothing yet... seems to be covered) ---------------------------------------------------------
It was a good exchange, I thought. On most days, "nothing much" seems to work best for most people. Life happens, so "nothing much" is that secret sauce able to bridge time and place to people and things, sparing all the boring details. Especially when the details are boring.
But it's nice, on occasion, to sweep aside the well-rehearsed and reflex ready replies to questions of what's new and how are we doing, by digging a little deeper and revealing more of ourselves to those who might inquire when we need it most.
Life is certainly more than "nothing much." It's good to remember that fact, as I wrestle with my nothing much, which just seems to ring truer for me, and anyone else who felt socially obligated to ask.