How Are You?

I was at work this morning when suddenly I heard rock music blasting from the office next door. Since I’m an acupuncturist who offers peaceful, soothing sessions I felt I needed to address this right away. It was a cold New England morning and so I put on my hat and coat and scarf and ventured next door to deal with the noise issue.

The neighbors agreed to lower their music, and on my way back to my office I bumped into the property manager and I figured that this was as good a time as any to fill him in on what had been transpiring. With limited time and the cold wind howling I launched right in and began to let him know what was going on and what I thought should be done about it. But somewhere in the middle of my diatribe I heard a still small voice whisper: Ask him how he is.”

Now, I have learned when I hear a still small voice speaking to me to stop and listen and so I stopped mid sentence, turned to the property manager and said: You know I launched right in, I want to stop and ask you how you are. How are you, by the way?

I paused and really made space to hear his answer and this big burly guy who generally doesn’t say very much and is sort of rough around the edges looked at me and said, Not very good.

And then he started to cry.

The wind was howling and I was cold but I just stood there so thankful that something in me told me to stop talking and start listening. And so I stood there and I listened for a while and the property manager talked.

He told me his dog had died unexpectantly two nights ago. His dog was his constant companion, perhaps the deepest bond this loner had on the planet. And so I put aside my concerns about this and that for another time and just let him tell me about his special bond with his dog.

And the wind howled and he talked and I thought but for the grace of God go I. But for the grace of God that I heard that voice that told me to ask him how he was.

I had good reason to be in a rush that morning and to be distracted. I still had a client on the table with acupuncture needles in. It was cold outside. The wind was blowing. The neighbors where being really loud at 10:30 in the morning. The massage therapist in my office was waiting to here what was going on with the noise issue. But something in me said just stop. Stop moving so fast. Ask this man how he is.

I share this story as a reminder to all of us because I almost missed this moment, this opportunity to help a fellow traveler on this journey called life. I was distracted, I was annoyed. I almost was so wrapped up in myself that I could have missed the moment.

This was a good reminder to me that everyone is suffering and everyone has some pain they are carrying.   It was a good reminder to slow down and be present. It was a good reminder, to remember to look people in the eye from time to time and ask: How are you and really listen to their answer.

People will talk if you will listen.

Find someone to comfort this weekend. Find someone to ask: how are you? It could be someone in your life, or a store clerk or the teller at the bank. You never know where you might be needed.

So often we look for grand, lofty ways to be helpful. Sometimes the best contribution we can offer another on this planet is to care enough to ask: How are you and listen to the answer.

Have a good weekend everyone. May the force be with you. And may you lighten someones burden and may someone lighten your burden as well.

And if you want to join with others in the spirit of community and healing and transformation, we will be having our group healing at 800 Main street, this Monday, March 11 from 7-8:30 at 800 main Street in Amherst. The class is drop in and all are welcome.


Hayley Mermelstein