What if we all answered the question “How are you?” honestly?

On Oprah’s website there is a story by Elisabeth Lesser about what Rumi called The Open Secret. Below I have included page 2 of the three page article. Please click on the link to see the rest.

The Persian poet Jelalluddin Rumi wrote poems so alive and clear that even today—eight centuries later—they shimmer with freshness. Their wisdom and humor are timeless; whenever I have an a-ha moment with one of Rumi’s poems, I feel connected to the people throughout the ages who have climbed out of their confusion on the rungs of Rumi’s words.

In several of his poems and commentaries, Rumi speaks of the Open Secret. He says that each one of us is trying to hide a secret—not a big, bad secret, but a more subtle and pervasive one. It’s the kind of secret that people in the streets of Istanbul kept from each other in the 13th century, when Rumi was writing his poetry. And it’s the same kind of secret that you and I keep from each other every day. You meet an old acquaintance, and she asks, “How are you?” You say, “Fine!” She asks, “How are the kids?” You say, “Oh, they’re great.” “The job?” “Just fine. I’ve been there five years now.”

Then, you ask that person, “How are you?” She says, “Fine!” You ask, “Your new house?” “I love it.” “The new town?” “We’re all settling in.”

It’s a perfectly innocent exchange of ordinary banter; each one of us has a similar kind every day. But it is probably not an accurate representation of our actual lives. We don’t want to say that one of the kids is failing in school, or that our work often feels meaningless, or that the move to the new town may have been a colossal mistake. It’s almost as if we are embarrassed by our most human traits. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time to go into the gory details with everyone we meet; we don’t know each other well enough; we don’t want to appear sad, or confused, or weak, or self-absorbed. Better to keep under wraps our neurotic and nutty sides (not to mention our darker urges and shameful desires.) Why wallow publicly in the underbelly of our day-to-day stuff? Why wave the dirty laundry about, when all she asked was, “How are you?”

Have you ever predicted the immediate future?

I am not talking of any big Nostradamus-like, civilization changing predictions, but rather small seemingly insignificant events that you just knew were going to happen. In fact you were so sure they were going to occur that you had acted upon that knowledge and were proven right. I am going to share two stories about myself where somehow I knew how events in my immediate future were going to play out.

Story #1 – Ice Ice Baby

It was the Christmas season of 1990 and I was talking to my best bud Tom on the phone and he invited me over to his house for the evening. This was not an unusual event at all as we spent most of our time hanging out with each other. I told him I would be over shortly and I hung up. After I put down the phone I had this overwhelming sense that Tom possessed a copy of Vanilla ice’s hit song Ice Ice Baby (yes I must admit to liking the song). It wasn’t playing in the background while we were talking. He never mentioned that he had the album. But I just knew he had it. Without hesitation I went searching through our junk drawers & book shelves so i could find and bring a blank cassette to his house to record it. Shortly after I found one and headed over to his place. Wouldn’t you know as I walked through his basement door Ice Ice Baby was blasting over his radio. I handed him my blank tape and he made me a copy.

Story #2 – 10, 9, 8…..

It was the winter of 1989 and I was a Grade 8 student at Odessa Public School near Kingston Ontario. Every lunch hour we spent 15 minutes eating and then 45 minutes out in the school yard. And there was about 8 of us who would play soccer for the entire time. Come rain, snow, sleet, wind, we didn’t care. Most of us would alternate positions but today I was playing goal. There was also about 8 inches of snow on the ground which made for great fun. After we had been playing for a while, my buddy Wayne broke free at half at started sprinting towards me with the ball. Without even thinking I started counting down loudly from 10. He had a full on breakaway heading towards me but given the snow it was taking some time. I continued shouting “9, 8, 7, 6”. As he got closer I readied myself and he approached from my left side. “5, 4, 3, 2,” and just as I belted out “1” he let his shot rip towards me. It was a perfect shot and went right between my legs. And wouldn’t you know that just as the goal went in the bell went off to end lunch hour. There were no clocks outside. No one had told me what time it was. But after 45 minutes of playing soccer I knew exactly how much time was left.

These stories could be mere coincidences. I don’t know for sure. But in both instances I remember being quite astounded at myself for knowing these events would occur. No one else seemed quite as impressed as me though. What was similar between both events was that I was incredibly happy and at ease with myself in those moments. Playing soccer in the snow on a not too cold, sunny, winter day was such a joyful experience. And hanging out with your best bud during the Christmas season is pretty fun too. Not that these were unique events by any means. In both cases I wasn’t thinking that I was making a prediction, I just acted.

Does anyone else have any similar stories?