Posts Tagged ‘health’


Have you ever wondered why we ask people that? The last thing in the world we want is for them to actually tell us how they are. Yet it almost comes out automatically, following a “Hi” or a “Hello”.  “How are you?” we’ll ask. It’s a way of reaching out, an attempt to express that we really are glad to see this person which a simple hi or hello alone does not convey.

The other day a guy half my age asked me how I was and, of course, I automatically replied “Fine”  like we always do. This time though I realized that I was not feeling fine and so I changed it and said, “Well, actually I’m not sure. I’m having some tests done.” His next statement caused me to regret having thought that he might really care how I was in the first place. What he said was, “When people get old, it’s always about health, isn’t it?”

Well, no. It’s about health when there is a health issue. I don’t see that it has that much to do with age. It’s probably true though that talking about our health has a lot to do with our innate need for attention, which has nothing to do with age either.  Who doesn’t want attention?

I’ve shared with you before that one of the advantages of being old is that people tend to watch out for you more. My sister calls it “covering your back” and old people often have more of that.  It’s sometimes obvious that you need help and they’ll offer to help you. I lived my life the victim of an overgrown pride that made asking for help really hard for me.

So having people offer to help never happened to me much until I was about eighty. At 76 I pushed a small car out the mud,and nobody offered to help. But, frankly, I love knowing that I’m covered from the back, that help is available. I’ll bet you that even old men love that feeling. But then maybe they’re still clinging to that male ego and resisting help.

The least we can do is to ask, “How are you?”  I don’t think we’re expected to listen to the answer.


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