A couple of weeks ago I had a passenger who answered the phone and when the caller asked how he was, he said “I’m maintaining”. It stuck with me. It felt like the first time I’d ever heard someone say that.
The brain works in mysterious ways. Perhaps I’d heard that a hundred times in my life, not as many times to refer to as “common” when I’d usually think of the typical responses of “oh, doing fine”, “I’m alright”, “I’m good” or “I’m getting by”, I’m going through some things”, etc. I have truly no recollection of ever having heard that before, but this time I heard it, and I mean heard it, because I needed to hear it. He said something completely in the middle of those common responses.
It struck me as gold. It was a way to communicate that you’re going through the good and the bad that life throws at us. It was that middle ground that explains being in between or in transition or in coming out of something or changing. It alludes to you having gone through some things and that you’re actively working to move past them. It was beautiful. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I told him right then and there that I’d liked his response. I told him how it made me feel and how it provoked so much thought. It was an honest response. It was a way to not feel that guilt you feel when you toss someone one of those generic responses. You know the feeling- you get it with those people that you feel really could hear you and listen to you, but you give them the old “I’m fine” when they ask how you are. You gave them that response because you still aren’t sure if they will really hear you, when so many don’t listen or don’t want to listen. We don’t want to bother anybody with the truth.
Sometimes, we really are “good” or “fine” or “alright”. Other times, though, we really aren’t, but with those coworkers or acquaintances, you don’t feel as comfortable going into it any further. It’s true, some people really won’t hear you, but there are still those other’s that may or maybe have gone through what you’re going through now and could help you. I’m going to start telling people “I’m maintaining” because, to me, I feel it gives the other person the option of asking more or just leaving it at that. I want to be more open to my fellow humans and see where it leads. Care to try it with me?