Saying G’day is something we do most days as well as “how are you going” meaning R U OK? There are days at our place when we say lots of G’day’s, and all we are doing is walking around our neighbourhood! We have met people and found out about others who live around us just through saying G’day. However, it takes more skill to delve deeper and find out if someone is OK. It depends on our relationship with the person and how comfortable it is to take that next step into finding out how the person is travelling in life! How are you going – R U OK?
Some months back my O&O and I met Ben when out walking. He lives at the end of a cul-de-sac with his young family. He was looking at the view from a great vantage point near his front gate down to the Lockyer Valley, beer in hand. No doubt a reward after a hard day’s work. Then a few months later we see Steve again but at the back of his property, beer in hand, looking at the view. We yelled out G’day and he motioned us over. We met the family’s pet sheep, behaves just like a dog. Like us the family have chickens and a coop with an auto door-opener. They have a large block of land backing onto Jubilee Park (313ha of bushland). We met his two daughters and this all happened through just saying G’day. When chatting to Ben he did not have one mouthful of beer. I felt that we were interfering with his afternoon tradition of relaxing outside, with a beer. Maybe next time we go walking we will take three beers in a backpack for an occasion such as saying G’day.
Then there is Jack who lives around the corner from us. He has lived in the same house for over 40 years. We said G’day and he stopped to chat. He told us so many interesting stories about some of the neighbours around us – Jack is the type of guy who does not hold back! Then there was John a few doors away. After we said G’day he chatted and shared about his life including the recent death of his wife. He has two children, still at school. Saying G’day can make a difference to someone’s day. Just by being willing to stop and listen.
Then there is Alan we meet regularly in the supermarket. I think he lives on his own, early 60’s, and always stops to say G’day. He talks loudly, maybe some hearing loss! He tells us about his cooking, his favourite sauce and what he likes with his baked beans. A while back we missed out on saying G’day to Alan as he was busy saying G’day to someone else!
Saying R U OK takes more skill then just saying G’day. Firstly, when saying R U OK, it should not be a glib statement. If I ask someone who I know and care about R U OK I must be ready to listen. This reminds me of a story about the woman at a party. Everyone was floating around, being polite, and saying “G’day, how are you going”? The woman says, “I am dying” and the response is “that’s good” and then the person moves on for another conversation. They did not listen!
The R U OK movement gives us simple steps to follow: ask, listen, encourage action, check-in. Not all of us know how to behave in a situation when we notice that someone we know, love or care about is not in a good place. The R U OK movement helps boost confidence and skills of people to connect meaningfully with others.
It all started when Gavin Larkin’s father took his own life in 1995. Then in 2009 Gavin decided it was time to step up and champion the cause that a conversation can change a life. Yes, a conversation can not only change a life, it can save a life.
R U OK? If not, see someone you trust and have a conversation or see a health professional. There is always someone who would like to say G’day and follow this with a meaningful conversation.
Note: The names of people in this post are fictional, but the stories are factual.