Walt Whitman once said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”
True. But …
I was at a party recently and someone asked how my kids were doing. I’ll only say this; their journey, how they’re navigating it, and all their accomplishments are pretty impressive. I’ll leave it at that.
But, sometimes we get caught up in the moment and splash their achievements all over the other person. And, that’s what I did. Ever notice when one person splashes, the other person tends to one-up you with their splashing? It’s a reflex and both of us end up with our eyes stinging. When she began to respond with how well her kids were doing, I realized I’ve gotten us both all wet.
In fact, I probably misinterpreted the depth of her question to begin with. I overestimated her interest. Maybe, I overlooked it completely. Maybe pride pushed me in. Maybe I wasn’t ready to swim quite yet and it all took me by surprise. Her too, for that matter. It happens to all of us on occasion.
Ego and pride play their parts, but a little goes a long way. It’s why we take showers, wear nice clothes, accomplish things, and care how we’re perceived and received by the world. But, there’s a threshold. Cross it and we’ve gone from interesting to “Get me the hell out of this pool”.
When someone asks us, “Hey, how’s it going?” The most widely accepted social reply is, “Pretty good; thanks. How are you doing?” They respond and we go about our day. It’s a greeting, not an interrogation.
I should have said, “Oh, they’re doing great; thanks. And yours?” If she responded with, “Really good; thanks”, that would also be the end of the encounter. Perfectly acceptable and understandable. Or, the conversation gracefully makes its way to deeper waters.
Shallow, surface level conversation in perpetuity makes me want to get out and towel off. I swim much better below the surface than on it. I thrive there, but a cannonball is too much, too soon, and way too splashy.
Anyways, before we splash our achievements, adventures, and awesome exploits on someone who isn’t ready to get all wet, we should probably test the waters first. Just because they asked, “How’s the water”, doesn’t mean they want to be violently thrown in.
By the way; how are you doing?
Photo by Eleanor Carter on Unsplash