Tuesday, March 24, 2020

On Preventing Unnecessary Homicides

... it was not unusual for us to go days without finding anything to say to each other.

The vast emotional distances between the individual members of a Scandinavian family are forged early and reinforced daily. Can you imagine growing up in a culture where you can never ask anyone anything about themselves? Where "How are you?" is considered a personal question that one is not obligated to answer. Where you are trained to always wait for others to first mention what is troubling them, even as you are trained to never mention what is troubling you. It must be a survival skill left over from the old Viking days when long silences were required to prevent unnecessary homicides during the long, dark winters when quarters were close and supplies were dwindling.

Excerpt from Lab Girl
by Hope Jahren

Although I wasn't raised by a Scandinavian family, I can imagine questions like "How are you?" feeling personal. Honestly, it took me a long time to not take every question seriously, as if people really wanted to know the answer. And describing how you are isn't always as simple as it seems.

Sometimes you have to shrug off the questions. And more often, you should probably shrug off the need to answer. Not everyone wants to know. Sometimes silences are good. And maybe, sometimes, the silences even prevent unnecessary homicides.



Mei said...

Please know that if I ask how you are, I want to know. If I wish to simply greet you, I say hello. ;-)

Zeri Kyd said...

Mei, I'm not worried about your questions. :-) I know you try to mean them more than most.