A shocking story made the british headlines a couple of weeks ago; after losing his wife of 38 years during lockdown, a septuagenarian found himself in deep isolation, no family or friends around to console him or keep him company.
The widower decided to take matters in his own hands, and started handing over his contact details to strangers in local supermarkets to make new friends. The phone remained shtum…
That effort being unsuccessful, he went on to publish a few adverts in his local paper, still to no avail however.
In the end, the poor man resorted to sticking a big long note on his house’s front window to appeal to passers-by. On it he wrote that he had lost his wife, he had “no friends or family”, “no one to talk to”, and found the never ending silence all day long “unbearable torture”.
How heartbreaking is that? It is rather unthinkable and revolting that somebody can end up in such a desperate situation; nobody to talk to, literally begging to have a conversation with another soul. Mindboggling really you would think…however when I come to look into this closely, I have to admit that this should really not be that shocking. This is what society looks like today, and I’m not even trying to judge!
“Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine”
Life is very stressful. We’re so much caught up in our little lives that we can’t see the wood for the trees. There are lots of lonely people that we meet in our everyday life, but we just don’t notice them, too busy and too tired to lend a smile or a look to a stranger. We so do with existing relationships as well, to tell the whole truth…
You’ve noticed how prominent social media platforms have become in our lives, they have become the norm. This is in a way a trade off against the lack of effort or courage we bestow to new encounters or current circles in the real physical world. We are tired, we are mistrustful, we are not brave enough.
It might be the “only child syndrome”, but I love my time alone haha! I totally revel in spending time with myself, choosing when I sleep, what I eat, where to go etc. However, there always comes a time when I reach out to friends or family, because as enjoyable as my me-time can be, I will always eventually feel the need to connect to other people.
We need each other to thrive, to feel alive, to be healthy mentally and physically, there’s no escaping that truth. We are special, unique, only in comparison to other people – I am me because I am not you.
Ubuntu, the African philosophical concept famously used to facilitate the transition towards democracy in South Africa has at its core the thought that a person is a person through other people.
Okinawa, a Japanese longevity hotspot, gave us the Ikigai concept (meaning the reason for being, the raison d’etre. I recommend a fabulous read on it by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles). One of Ikigai’s founding principles is social connectedness.
Okinawans have this fascinating tradition of pairing children from a young age into groups of friends –Moai – who commit to each other for life! Moai form a second family for the members who can count on each other for experiencing life, financial assistance, company…basically being there for each other through thick and thin. Institutionalized friendship literally! Amazing…
Guess what? Our friend from the beginning managed to crack the code! That poster on his front window was everything! Media outlets got hold of the story and spread it all around. His email inbox crashed because inundated with emails, phone calls and letters galore…
He was brave enough to be vulnerable, and he made it happen…Vulnerability, bravery…
A happy ending.
Thats is a lovely ending. Lesson learned how can take care of each. And learned to be vulnerable and brave.
This quotation from the French poet and abbot Joseph Roux embodies Déborah’s challenging article:
« La solitude vivifie ; l’isolement tue. » Loneliness invigorates; isolation kills.
This is so true!
Merci pour la très bonne leçon de vie.Nous aurons toutes les pierres précieuses de la terre, mais celles ci ne nous diront jamais bonjour au réveil.