“I’m Fine Thank You”

Posted on: 9th March 2012

Everyone who was at last Saturday’s Volunteer Day at B&S was doubtless as moved and inspired as I was after one of Body & Soul’s longest-serving, award-winning volunteers Marian delivered a speech explaining why, even after all these years she still looks forward to every trip she makes to Body & Soul (sometimes twice a week) and what she gets from delivering massages and support to our members.

Marian shared a poem with us and we’d like to share it with you in turn – (it’s not Marian’s poem but we haven’t been able to track down who wrote it)…

I’m Fine Thank You

There is nothing the matter with me
I’m as healthy as can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees
and when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak and my blood is thin
but I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

Arch supports I have for my feet
or I wouldn’t be able to be on the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night
but every morning I find I’m all right.
My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin
but I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

The moral is this, as my tail I unfold
that for you and for me, who are growing old
It’s better to say “I’m fine”, with a grin,
then to let folks know the shape we are in.

This poem got me thinking about how often we use words like “fine” and “ok” without thinking about what they mean, or what we want to mean by using them.

I can’t tell you how many times in a day I say those two words, but I’m assuming it’s far more frequently than words like “great” or even “dreadful”. It seems like the question “how are you?” has turned more into a greeting than an enquiry these days, and that “fine” and “ok” have become the standard responses.

But when we ask “how are you?” how often do we actually want to hear the answer, wait to hear it, or care what it is? Do we always notice if the answer, either explicitly or implicitly is “not fine?”; and do we know where we’ll go in the conversation if someone obviously needs to talk? Do we always have time to deal with a more complicated answer? Do we ourselves say “fine” when we know we’re not because it seems like too much to say “actually I need to talk”?

One of the key roles of our volunteers at Body & Soul is to see beyond the “fine”. Whether it’s the therapists such as Marian who with their hands are able to soothe someone physically who might not be “fine”; or one of the adult service volunteers who’s able to reach out to someone down the other end of a telephone line and soothe by reassurance, care and company; or a teen spirit volunteer who can see that a young person’s smiles and high spirits might be masking some bad news they’ve had or problems at home.

We can’t always make everyone feel better straight away but we can set them on the road to where they can start to really feel fine again, and in the meantime, offer them a sturdy shoulder to lean on.

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