In the Keepers series, Sarah Turner is no stranger to loneliness. Hers, however, is not caused by quarantines and social distancing.
We can feel lonely even while standing in a crowded room. Likewise, many people experience their alone time as a welcome opportunity for peaceful solitude, rather than isolation and misery.
Loneliness is a state of mind. It’s about how connected you feel with others, regardless of how many people surround you or the number of “likes” you get on social media. It’s about quality of relating to others, not quantity.
This is what happened with our Sarah. She downplayed the importance of intimacy in her life in order to to focus on pressing long-term goals. Realizing what she had done, as well as the job of reconnecting with important others, carries her through at least three novels.
During this pandemic, social distancing stems from safety issues. But we need not feel lonely. Thanks to modern technology, there are many ways to reach out and connect with friends and relatives.
Yet one of the most healing remedies for loneliness lies elsewhere. It’s about discovering recognition that we are part of something much bigger: common humanity. Feeling lonely is difficult when we see ourselves as ongoing members of a larger, significant whole. How can we use extra time on our hands to do good?
Virtual groups and organizations abound. Options for joining online groups that make a difference are endless. We need not be physically or even virtually together to benefit. Merely knowing we are part of something purposeful, meaningful, and bigger than ourselves is key. Most likely, the current civil rights protests are at least partially fueled by human resilience seeking relief by joining a greater good.
We dare not pass up this opportunity to brew the lemonade that quenches the thirst of struggling common humanity. There are so many worthy causes we can become part of. In addition to relieving loneliness, the passion and energy created by our joint gut reactions can lead us to safe and productive paths for reform, no matter what our cause:
- more effectively communicating our concerns with those who lead,
- helping productive officials get elected,
- participating in referendum efforts,
- supporting programs that help heal divides or address other issues,
- using craft skills to produce items to donate to needy others,
- bringing to light social science or medical findings that apply,
- joining book review clubs and other relevant discussion groups, and
- supporting and performing research that helps understand and remedy your concern.
Complaining about and protesting against social problems does indeed help bring them to light. However actions that directly tweak the problems are an entirely different kettle of fish.
Sarah discovers multiple opportunities for addressing her loneliness. Where might your own opportunities lie?