Alone

  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.

Advertisements

Alone

  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.

Alone

  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET THEM SHOW

What are your true colors? Whether you are young or old, you should let them shine.

SERENDIPITY

Thoughts on your true colors by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

“You with the sad eyes

Don’t be discouraged

Oh I realizeIt’s hard to take courage…”

It’s hard to grew up with the perception that you are different from everyone else, even if it is not really so. When you do not know much about the outside world, the world inside you can make you sad. “Why am I not like everyone else?” you may wonder.

“Why am I so different?”  Thoughts like this can lead to sadness. Even though you try to act happy on the outside, your eyes might give you away. 75-RainbowNK-2 There is no way to know that being different is not necessarily wrong when your emotions are telling you otherwise.  Worse yet, other people are telling you that different is wrong, even if only in an indirect way.

“Cut it out.”

“Be a man.”

“Grow up.”

“Stop crying.”

“Why…

View original post 500 more words

Alone

  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.

Being alone

“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 spectacular 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

Alone

  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Being alone

“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

Fighting loneliness, and the government

#christmas

#christmas (Photo credit: Isselmuden)

The holiday seasons bring ample opportunity for social activities.  Family and friends plan more gatherings than during the rest of the year.  Grandmas revel in the opportunity to bring together their children and grandchildren.  Cousins may delight in seeing their family friends of relatively the same generation.  Brothers and sisters will put aside differences as they gather around the Christmas tree.  It is a great time for families.

Friends find time for gatherings with their “extended families” and friends.  They may rent a bus and take all of their friends carolling to the houses of family and those they feel need a little cheer.  Favorite sports bars will decorate with great delight and the increased business their holiday parties will bring adds smiles to everyone.  School choirs will delight churches filled with people, while some choirs will visit hospitals and nursing homes.  There is so much to fill our hearts and souls as well as the hearts and souls of others.  Why then do so many people fight loneliness at the holidays?

Of course we may think it is only the homeless, the elderly, the poor and destitute that feel lonely at the holidays.  This is why social agencies and churches of all denominations try to reach out to those in need.  There will be Christmas dinners at local parishes.  People will volunteer to take hams and turkeys and other groceries to those in need.  Night ministries and local volunteers will try to find shelter and warmth for those in need.  People will drop extra coins into kettles or mail checks in response to charity pleas for assistance.  The efforts extended at the holidays can be greater than at any other time, but for many it is not enough.  The helping hand is not the answer.  A free turkey will not heal the soul.

Many poor and elderly are lonely all year round.  A hand at the holidays may lift the spirit for a few hours or even a few days.  It does not speak to the loneliness that creeps into the hearts of those who are truly alone.  Of course, the elderly person living alone and in poverty will smile when you ring the doorbell with a Christmas basket.  It is nearing the end of the month and his or her meager resources may be depleted.  Such a gift may help them get to the next month.  They know, however, that you will not be there with a gift next month, or the month after.  Their moment of happiness may indeed be darkened by the stark reality that can be held in a deep winter night.   A special meal helps, and for some it may help a lot, but it is not enough.

Even in these hard times we live in a land of plenty.  Some people with a few extra dollars to spend may feel delighted to drop it on a charity when they hear the Christmas bells ringing.  Snowflakes may put a twinkle in their eyes and a few dollars in the collection plate.  And next week?  Next month?  Charity is a necessity in this bleak economy, but so is faith and hope.  Without hope, charity is only a temporary salve on the wounds of the heart.  Without hope, we can lose faith.

While we lament the truly lamentable, our leaders, the ones to whom we entrusted our government, are busy figuring out at what levels we can preserve tax breaks for the rich.  They are considering how they can cut back on entitlement programs, you know, social security and medicare, while preserving their own better than outstanding retirement plans.  No congressman is saying, “Let us cut back our own retirements if we are going to trim or eliminate the increases for others.”  While Congress continues to wage war on the poor and middle class, the president is getting ready to compromise on “entitlements” and tax cuts.  While Speaker Boehner is ready to compromise on tax cuts for the super rich, the president is getting ready to compromise on the meager funds given to poor and elderly.  They will all tell us if we avert going over the “fiscal cliff”, that compromise is good government.  Good for whom?

For the New Year, we may consider adding desperate to the situations of those who are already poor and lonely.  Since we spent recklessly in good times and entered into wars of questionable merit, we must now punish those whose only reprieve from lonely and desperate, is the meager Social Security check they receive.  While the Speaker of the House sleeps a little uneasily for a night or two at the thought that a rich friend or two may have to pitch in an extra few bucks next year, he will undoubtedly not lose any sleep over the desperate situations of the poor and lonely.

The Salvation Army realizes that most of their funds come through Christmas season bell ringing at shopping centers and malls.  The Little Brothers of the Poor will find more volunteers now to visit elderly and bring gifts.  Local parishes will receive more donations of food so they can hold Christmas dinners.  Charities everywhere will be expected to fill the gap left by government cutbacks.  While our Republican and Tea Party friends enjoy their Christmas dinners and expensive wines, they have no idea what they are doing to the lonely in order to preserve lower taxes for the rich.English: U.S. President is greeted by Speaker ...

Note:  I realize I have painted Republicans with a broad stroke of greed.  Reports at present show that some are prepared to break ranks with their leaders in support of their constituents, but only a few.  I think the rest are saying something like, “bah, humbug.”  Perhaps they are not, maybe it is just “Thank you, Mr. President.”