I don’t want to ever be a person who asks how someone else is doing and walks away before they have time to answer.
If I don’t have time, if I don’t actually want to know, I won’t ask. And if I do ask, I’ll be prepared to sit with the answer, however difficult or convoluted it is.
People who do that, who drop “how are you” and then exit before you have time to answer probably don’t know how jarring that can be. How rude it can seem.
And there’s no hope, really, of explaining it to them — the impact of what they do. Since they’re long gone.
Sometimes I wonder about them. If they’re doing this all over their life, not just as a one-off. If they’re going through the motions of how they think polite society acts but bowing out before they get anywhere close to having an impact on other people.
What must their marriages look like? Their work lives?
What do they think about when they take a second to slow down and turn the question back on themselves? If they ever asked themselves “how are you?” would they take the time to answer? Or would they spit out a perfunctory adjective that’s top of mind. Like good. Or fine. Or great.
Or maybe you ask them how it’s going, and they answer you, “It’s going.” And that’s probably the truest answer of all.
It’s going alright. But wherever it’s going, it’s going there on autopilot. Without anyone looking out the windows or absorbing what’s even going on while it’s going wherever it’s going.
There are no destinations in a life like that. Only journeys that you sleep through. Photographs you took without knowing what you were capturing. You moved like a tourist through your own life. Picking up souvenirs, gawking at monuments, without understanding what any of it even is. Let alone what it means.