Time and presence of mind can really limit a conversation, so I noticed the other day when I was trying to get in a quick climb after school and before picking up kids. I ran into a friend who asked, "Hey, what's new with you?" Not really a loaded question, I know. It's actually a courtesy question in passing, right? So my pat response is typically, "Oh, nothing much. Status quo, you know: parenting, teaching, running, climbing - that's it."
But that wasn't good enough. He actually was sincere and pressed me with, "Seriously? NOTHING is new with you? NOTHING?" He really wanted to know what was happening in my Life. So one thought led to another and I came up with all sorts of cool things that answers the question with more sincerity. Here's what's new . . .
New Commitment: I decided to devote one day a week to climb with my teaching partner and friend, Kate. She's relatively new to climbing, and I so prefer spending time mentoring a friend in my favorite sport, than teaching a class at this point in my life.
New Music: K'Naan released a new album More Beautiful Than Silence.
New Stressor: Furiously grading student essays and tests in order to calculate grades by Friday.
New Understanding: Dying isn't the end of the story. It changes the people left behind. When Grandma Betty died, I intentionally rearranged my thoughts and ideas, making room to express my life in different ways.
New Training Option: Moon Wall!
New Way to Wake Up in the Morning: Misa dancing with me every single morning this week, literally right out of bed. It is the sweetest way to start my day.
New Gift: A red purse that I've always wanted!
So yeah, when pressed to be sincere by a sincere person's question, there's more to "What's New" in my life than the same 'ol. It's easy to perceive common greetings as superficial, and answer in kind. It's just that this time was different. I was being held accountable for thinking my way into a sincere and thoughtful response, and given a chance to shake off a seemingly black-and-white picture of my life. At the end of the day, I was reminded that people can and often do bring out the best thoughts in others.