How are you?
My BFF texted me last night: How are you?!!
Such a simple question.
How are you?!!
Such a sweet and thoughtful and impossibly complex question.
The vast majority of the time, whenever someone asks this simple question, "how are you?," they expect an equally simple answer. "Fine." "I'm fine." "Fine, thanks."
If life were always simple, we would always be fine.
But while my BFF and I have very few rules to our "F," one of those few rules is: No BS. We agreed long ago to always have raw honesty between us. That level of absolute trust is what makes us BFFs. When he (yes, my BFF is a man, and not the man to whom I'm presently married, and no, I don't want to talk about it, or I would write about it, so let's move on) asks, "how are you?," my BFF wants the truth. The entire, messy, complicated truth. He wants to know that today will be a day filled with lawyering, and law professor-ing, and choir accompanist-ing because it is Wednesday in the South. He wants to know that I will feel anguish and guilt today because the equine sanctuary I run has no room and no funds to take in yet another horse in desperate need and this particular horse may well die because I have to say, "no." He understands a piece of my soul will die with that horse because I'm an empath and I want so desperately to help every single animal in pain on the whole entire planet. He knows my music will help my grief heal. He "gets" me - yet places zero demands upon me - which is why he is my BFF.
How am I?
Compared to what?
"How am I?" is a highly relevant question.
How am I? Compared to the emaciated, injured horse who has no place to go, I am robustly healthy - obese, in fact - and so I'm doing great and you, sweet innocent horse who has been so let down by humanity, you are dying a slow and horrible death of starvation and infection and, absent some miracle, there's not a damn thing I can do about it.
How am I? Compared to my long-deceased sister whose life was cut short by an innocent drunk youth, I am alive and well, thank you very much. And I do not suffer the pangs of guilt that surely haunt that young, stupid person who had three beers and, for that buck-seventy-three of cheap alcohol, lo, those many years ago, left two very young boys motherless and rudderless to grow up into semi-sketchy members of society who want to have absolutely nothing to do with their lawyer-and-sometimes-too-straight-laced aunt Esther.
You, alcohol, cost me a sister and my nephews. You broke a mother's heart as she buried her middle daughter. You dethroned and decrowned this daddy's princess, yet I am not a victim of child abuse. I am a survivor. I loathe you, alcohol, with a finely distilled hatred that will never abate.
How am I? Compared to the thunderstorm that pounds around me as I sit on a porch and write, I am a powerless, minuscule blob of static energy in the universe.
How am I? Compared to the songbirds that greet the morning as the clouds begin to lift, I am utterly talentless and contribute nothing of any worth to this world.
How am I? I am scared and fearless. Bold and desperate. Determined to fight any notion of "I must conform" until I break free of these self-imposed chains and express every possible facet of the complex entity that I call, "me." I am an amazing creation, a bundle of raw creative energy that seeks beauty and joy and kindness so I can absorb every bit of all of it and reflect it back out to offer light and hope to all those I meet, of any species, along my journey.
How am I?
How are you?!!