In a lifetime, we march through a succession of fiery walls, fighting flaming emotional and physical ordeals.These trials that come upon us, one after another, usually pass, with some modicum of serenity restored.
We often survive the unremitting fires searing our soul and person because others cared to help.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
A young man at a retail store days ago asked a series of discount questions about a purchase I was making.
I said, “No thanks, thanks for asking.”
He appeared hurt.
I asked, “So how is your day going?”
“Okay, I guess,” he said.
After a pause, he said, “I’m bipolar. I take medication. I spent Thanksgiving alone. My family told me they were too busy to see me, but I knew they were home and could have seen me. But they didn’t want to be with me. My friends abandoned me as well. I was alone. It was hard.”
“Sometimes, a family fails an individual,” I said, “and friends are hardly friends who don’t have time for a friend. Do you have someone who is faithful to you?,” I asked.
“Like what do you mean?” he said.
“They are there when you need them?”
He said, “I have a few who are like that.”
“Get in touch with them,” I suggested, “Spend time with them. Or take yourself out for a dinner and a movie, treat yourself. You don’t need people who aren’t there for you.”
He reached out for a fist bump.
Aloneness is a real thing.
Have you noticed how some reach out to talk, need to talk, and don’t want the conversation to end.
Are our lives so busy we can’t spend a few moments listening a little longer than we would like?
Some suffer badly from the pathogens in our body politic that, for them, worsen by the day.
A woman at the pool, the next lane over, at Ida Lee, having finished a lap, turned, and said, “I used to like watching the news.”
After a brief moment, she said, “I got rid of my tv.”
We don’t appreciate how aloneness affects any of us.
So many things can make a person feel isolated, irrelevant, unwanted, helpless.
We may ask why the personal values we hold dear elude others entirely.
A famous Greek said we are “social animals.”
But we don’t always act that way.
Denying who we are, what we all need, comes at an existential cost.
A person denied society by circumstance, who feels under water psychologically, struggles to cope, or just needs another to say aloud it’s okay what you feel or believe, that that person is suffering.
This is our season of charity – thus the parable teaching us that strangers should be welcome at the Inn.
Of course, it is instead a season of binging consumerism.
The good book says, though we speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and we have not charity, we have become as sounding brass or a tingling cymbal.
A simple gift of caring is to stop and hear what someone else has to say, to set aside the impatience of our time, to appreciate that the short moment we spend with or helping another is a salve for the soul, for both who embrace that moment, doing what after all, a “social animal” is meant to do.
This would be a good resolution for now and for the New Year – to care more.