How Are You?

How are you?

On the face of it, the question seems fairly innocuous - harmless even. But it can, and does, carry a lot of potential - potential for hurt as well as for connection.

Are you one of those people who always, automatically answers ‘How are you?’ with the standard, glib, phrase: ‘Fine thanks’?

I was one of those for a long time. But really, it’s almost completely meaningless - both the question and the answer carry about as much ‘weight’ as saying ‘Good morning!’ It’s just words; perhaps it breaks the ice; or perhaps, in some circumstances, it serves to strengthen the barriers between us, and to emphasise afresh the lack of understanding, of empathy, in many human contacts.

‘Fine, thanks’ in response to the enquiry can be an honest appraisal of one’s situation; it can also be (and often is) a blatant untruth, an outright lie. It can be a cover for ‘I really don’t want to tell you’ or ‘I don’t want to put you off.’

I stopped answering ‘I’m fine’ quite deliberately. I can’t remember now whether it was during a phase of life when I really was fine, but wanted to express it in a way that didn’t just sound like the stock, glib, unmeaning, phrase which conveys precisely nothing because it’s such a cliché, or whether it was during a phase when I was going through a tough time and was desperate for ‘connection’. I suspect the former, for reasons which may become clear further on in these musings.


A random thought about the resurrection. Appropriate, since today is Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection.

I’m a physicist. As such, I’m used to the world functioning according to a set of established laws. We may not know all of them, but the world is, by and large, predictable. Things happen, and they obey the laws of physics, and I and other physicists are content - except about things which we haven’t explained yet, or devised laws which enable us to predict what’ll happen next time that thing, or something similar, happens.

There are exceptions to the laws which govern the way the world works. Arguably, one such notable exception is the resurrection of Jesus. People have tried to dismiss the resurrection as a figment of people’s imagination, and have tried to come up with all sorts of explanations as to why it couldn’t have happened. Actually, once you really dig into the arguments, and the evidence, it’s pretty hard to dispute that it happened. I’m not going to do that digging, here and now. Maybe another time. For now, please just accept (even if you find it personally difficult) that Jesus died, and that on the third day (the crucifixion happened on the first day - no mathematical concept of zero back then) he was resurrected… In that something very strange happened - his dead body came back to life, with ‘him’ ‘inhabiting’ it… Although His resurrected self was (or is?) strange in some of the ways in which it ‘interacts with' the world - He seems to be able to do things which don’t seem to us to be ‘normal’ - like passing through locked doors.

Copyright © Phil Hendry, 2016