“When you’re alone and
Life is making you lonely
you can always go…”
Where? Where can you go when you feel lonely? Of course, there are just times you want to be alone. That’s different. People sometimes like to be by themselves. Perhaps they just want to read or listen to music. Perhaps they just want to meditate or pray. Perhaps they just want to close their eyes and relax without the distractions of sound all around. Perhaps some feel that yoga is best practiced in solitude. There may be many reasons that someone wants to spend a little time alone. In today’s super connected, social media charged world, you may just want to get away for a while. I recall going camping years ago to remote places where there was little to disturb the peace. We did not worry about getting a cell phone signal, simply because there were no cell phones. We did not feel lonely when seeking peace and quiet, but sometimes we were just alone.
What if being alone also translates into loneliness? What if you would like to be connected, but you are not? What if you have no cell phone, no desktop, laptop, or tablet? What if there is no cable, no satellite dish, no high definition, no 3D, surround sound specataculars to “wow” your friends? In fact, what if there is a general lack of friends and family?
“When you’ve got worries
all the noise and the hurry
seem to help, I know…”
For some there is little social contact and many worries. What if you have to choose between the rent and your prescriptions, your electric bill and your phone bill, new shoes on your feet or something to eat? Will all the noise and the hurried-up modern world help? There may be moments when the bright city lights and the activities all around can steal away the worries, if only for a moment. What will there be to help after that? Are there enough social programs to help when loneliness and worry takes hold?
“Just listen to the music
of the traffic in the city
Linger by the sidewalk where
the neon signs are pretty…”
How can you lose? In a large city how can one possibly be lonely? The city itself is alive and enticing. There are beautiful parks and museums. There are theaters and concerts. There is nightlife every night of the year. There are sports teams and sports bars. There are those, however, who can not partake. A life event may have robbed the resources and the energy. As the baby boomer, post World War II generation ages, and their new age government works hard to limit their benefits, many have, or will, find themselves alone and lonely. Partners get sick and die. Friends move away. Family forgets. Jobs are lost to the economy or perhaps just to age. Retirement is not satisfying, and there is no one to catch everyone when they have nothing to fall back on.
“So maybe I’ll see you there,
We can forget all our troubles,
Forget all are cares and go…”
The organization AARP reports that 40 per cent of people over 65 live alone. A changing life event, failing health, disability, lack of funds may leave many of them lonely as well. What is to be done? I know what many of you are thinking. “He is NOT going to advocate the government fix all of this, AGAIN!” No, I am not. The plain fact of the matter is they can not fix it all. No matter how much of a safety net they try to build into society (and they should try), they simply will not be able to catch everyone. Besides, what resource, exactly, will help those who are alone and feeling lonely?
This is where we come in, literally. This is where we come through the door and make a difference. Loneliness can be dispelled by making sure our friends and loved ones are not alone all the time. That they have a social network. That they have family who will include them, even if it is just the “extended family.” We did not spend a lifetime attending family events and socializing with friends to leave them high and dry when they could not get out or could not afford a cab or even a bus to get somewhere. In the busy lifetime of starting a career, making friends, getting married (or getting a “life partner’) or raising a family, can we forget about those who raised us? The family and their friends who picked us up and put us back on our bikes should not be forgotten when they can barely walk.
As I firmly believe that what goes around, comes around, I should have enough motivation to help out. If I can answer someone’s prayer, maybe someone else will answer mine. I also have the feeling that a sense of duty has been lost by many of my fellow humans. There certainly was a time when family helped one another at all stages of life. The increasingly mobile society, of course, has put miles, states or even oceans between loved ones. So, I guess the bottom line is that we are in this together and should not leave any one of us completely alone or lonely. (Yes, sometimes you need to leave when the party is over, that’s different.) Perhaps now is a good time to reacquaint yourself with a family member you have not seen in a while or an old friend who has been out of touch. Treat them to something nice. It does not have to be expensive. Maybe you can just go Downtown.
“The lights are much brighter there
you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”
“Downtown” by: Ernest Drummond William, Tony Hatch
Copyright: Welbeck Music Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music Ltd, Sony/Atv Music Publishing (uk) Limited
- Douglas LaBier: How Loneliness Can Harm Your Health (huffingtonpost.com)
- The loneliness epidemic (guardian.co.uk)
- Loneliness (sanjoyshubro.wordpress.com)
- Loneliness Harms Your Health – and It’s Increasing (psychologytoday.com)
- All the Lonely People Our landmark survey uncovers an epidemic of loneliness by: Brad Edmondson, from: AARP The Magazine