What not to say (a reminder).

Look, I know you mean well. But you know what the absolute worst thing to say is when someone tells you the medical situation they are dealing with?

“It’s going to be okay.”

The fact that she is having something checked out in the first place already means it is most certainly NOT OKAY. What it is going to be is, simply, what it is, but it is anything but okay.

I’ve been a Sōtō Zen practitioner for a good chunk of time. In this tradition, first and foremost, we do not do denial. We face things as they are, be it good, bad, or ugly, and we do our best to understand that nothing is all one thing or another. There is no black or white; it is all shades of grey*. And that’s okay; and we fail, sometimes miserably, sometimes daily. And that’s okay too.

But please. Don’t tell me that what I am facing is going to be okay. It’s going to be a tumor, or it’s going to be a lifelong medical condition, or it’s going to be something completely different that the universe has not yet revealed to me. It is not – I repeat, not – going to magically disappear. And that, frankly, would be the only possible “okay” outcome. Which is not gonna happen. No. Not a chance.

However – it’s going to be dealt with to the best of my ability, and to the best of the abilities of my collective medical team. And while all of that, in and of itself, is “okay,” what it will be will be challenging and potentially messy and fraught with anxiety and frustration; all of which I am certain will, over time, prove to contain a few blessings amid a whole hell of a lot of prickly thorns.

But let’s be honest here:

It will not “be okay.”

Okay? Okay. Thanks.

(I’ve addressed this previously here, as well as a few other cliches that just really don’t help anybody. But this week, the winner by far is “it’s going to be okay.”)

*Which, coincidentally or maybe not so, happens to be my favorite color.