The Art of Being Fine

by Melinda Adair, Program Manager, Collegium Cafe

“How are you?” he asked with a curious smile.


“No, really. How are you?” he asked again, causing me to pause.

Glenn asks me this several times a week when I pop my head into his office to wish him a good morning. He smiles warmly then patiently leans back into his office chair, folds his arms across his chest, and waits. Some mornings I am good. Other mornings, I take a step closer to his desk, take a deep breath, and look out the window over his shoulder to reflect. “Am I good?” 

I know better than to use the word ‘fine’ with Glenn. His eyebrows will raise in question and he then leans forward, ever so slightly, waiting for an explanation.

The unfortunate truth is that I’m well-trained in the art of fine.

We all are, really. 

We’re fine because we feel that people are too busy to listen or don’t really care about the real answer. 

We’re fine because we can be messy and messy is uncomfortable. We’ll sacrifice our healing to keep others comfortable.

We’re fine because it’s easier to dismiss emotions as weakness instead of power to harness.

We’re fine because we’ve been trained to build a bridge and get over it, suck it up, and shrug it off.

It’s repulsive for me to consider how many times I’ve dished quick fixes, pat answers, snap judgments, and dismissals due to my lack of grace, compassion, or time. I was and still can be so ignorant. We don’t know what we don’t know. I have carried, in my own chest, the heart of a hypocrite.

The antidote? Brokenness. 

On any given day, Glenn, or any of our staffers can be found in our Café listening to stories of brokenness, longing, seeking, and healing. Are solutions offered? Not always. But invitations to love, grow, and find healing are. We share our own brokenness and scars as symbols of hope knowing that every step of healing is another step into our Divine identities and we desire for others to experience this same freedom. This is the way it’s meant to be; the healed become the healers. ‘Fine’ just doesn’t satisfy anymore.

Glenn waited as my thoughts tumbled and crashed against each other. He’s ridiculously patient. He’s witnessed me shed more tears in my healing than any person should endure. He gives space for me to talk through highs and lows. He’s unafraid of asking hard questions and our conversations, even the heavy ones, are laced with laughter and kindred acceptance. 

I did a final internal scan of my thoughts and feelings, searching for sunshine and shadows. Life carries both at all times but there are days when one tends to wins out. When the shadows govern, Glenn provides the space for me to talk it out and find some resolution.

Today my heart held sunshine.

I smiled at Glenn. “No really, I’m good!” and that’s way better than fine. 

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