Nothing makes what you’re feeling real until someone asks, “Are you okay?” Three simple words and a wave crashes inside you and breaks the hardest rocks of faux resilience apart, into pieces, into tiny shards of “No, no, no, no…” It also saves you, for the mind is not a rock; it’s an ocean, and the water has to pass somehow. What do you think is more resilient—the rocks that break apart, eventually, or the water that is always there, that slowly chips away at everything? Thus, the water does pass—you sit there crying over your friend’s shoulder as they sit with baffled bewilderment in their eyes, saying, “I’m sorry, I did not know.”
Nothing makes your happiness valid until someone asks on a muggy summer day, “So, how have you been?” And you tell them, “Happy, I’ve been happy,” with the glint of the yellow sun sparkling in the corner of your brown eyes as the drops of water trickle along the frosty glasses. You beam and laugh about it all as the music never ends, as the beer keeps pouring, as the days keep stacking, one after the other. There is nothing but days overflowing with all sorts of abundance. It is not until someone asks that you lose yourself in the daze of those happy summer days. It is not until someone asks that you even know, that you even realise how bright the days have been.
And that is why we needed the others—to ask and chink the dam slowly starting to crack as if their question was the final nudge that broke the whole thing apart. And that is why we needed the others—to ask and force us to look around at how the scenery has changed, at how plentiful everything has been. We needed the others to ask us questions. The questions make things real. All else is a blur of time. It is the questions that checkpoint our lives; it is the questions that tell us something has to change; it is the questions that remind us to savour things.
Nothing makes life more apparent than a harmless question, perhaps, asked in passing or as casual conversation or small talk at the bus stop. Nothing else makes life true but the existence of those who ask us things. We only exist because someone asks us, “How was your day?”