I Can’t Be That Way

I once asked the question,
“What am I supposed to say
When some one asks me
How I’m doing today?”

There’s a reason
That I asked that question.
I asked because I knew
There was an expected,
Acceptable answer
That I was supposed to give
And that answer was,
“OK.”
Followed closely by,
“Fine.”

And that’s the answer
Everyone expected
When they asked that question
Every day.

See.
I’d learned that
Long ago.
When I used to answer
Honestly,
When people asked me
How I was.

“I’ve had better days.”
“You don’t really want to know.”
Maniacle laughter.
“Life sucks.”
And many other things.

I learned that those answers
Were inappropriate
By the way that people reacted
To the answers that I gave.
And by the stories
That I heard
From other people.
“I don’t think I’ll ever ask
How he’s doing
Again.”

And my friends would know,
“You answered truthfully again,
Didn’t you?”

It was like I’d committed
An unforgivable sin.

But, I’ve come to learn
That the way
That single question works
Is just the tip
Of the iceberg.

For it seems to me
That there are places,
Like the place of work,
Where everything thing
That’s said, and done
Follows that same kind of rule.

And you never speak the truth.
For no one really
Wants to know
Anything at all
About you.

You’re just someone
That they work with.
And they don’t want to get close.
In case you find another job.
Or the contract you work on
Gets cut.
And you are gone.

It’s the way things are.
Where everyone’s your friend.
As long as you understand
And accept
The way things are,
And the way you’re supposed
To behave.
In that place.

And now,
Much to my dismay.
I’m learning
That damn near everyplace
Is like that
In some way.

Where I can’t
Give an honest answer
To any question at all.
Because that’s not
What’s wanted,
Or expected.
At all.

After all,
How would you feel
If you asked how I was doing,
And I answered you,
“My left knee hurts enough today,
That it’s making me limp.”

I believe that’s called,
“To much information”
Isn’t it?

To me it’s like
Everybody pretends
That every day’s the same.
And no one has
A good day,
Or a bad day.
Ever.
Like nothing ever happens.
And nothing ever changes.
And no one cares at all
For anyone.

Like everyone tells lies,
And everybody knows it.
And ignores the fact
That no one speaks the truth.
And they don’t know
A single thing
About anyone at all.

And that’s OK.
‘Cause that’s the way
That things are supposed to be.
So that no one feels
Anything at all
If someone around them
Gets fired.
Gets laid off.
Gets hit by a truck.
Gets shot.
Gets seriously ill.

Has their house burn down,
Clean to the ground.
Looses all their hair
In chemotherapy.
Breaks a leg,
Or arm.

Has a child that dies
For any reason.
Has a spouse
That leaves them.
Goes through
A nasty divorce.

I can’t help but wonder
Why things are this way.
Do people live this way
To protect themselves?
So that they
Don’t have to feel
Anything at all
For the people around them?

Now I have to let you know.
That as I learn
About this world
That I live in.

I can’t,
And I won’t,
Ever live that way.

I will never let my heart
Freeze as cold as ice,
And grow hard as stone,
Again
In my life.

You can live that way
If you wish to.
I can’t,
And I won’t,
Stop you.

But I can’t,
And I won’t,
Follow those kind of rules.
Or that way of life.

I have to be
The way I am.
The human being
I was meant
To be.

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