Hungry For Connection
I recently completed a guided meditation on loneliness where it was suggested that hunger and loneliness are spurred on by the same need in a person’s brain. When our tummy tells our brain it needs nourishment, we act on that need, but do we act on our need for connection when we’re lonely?
Like many of you, my yearning for connection grew by leaps and bounds the past three years. With very little recourse, my personal world became smaller and smaller, and although my husband is great company day-in and day-out (for over 23 years now) I still craved interaction with others. Then the world opened up and doing something and going somewhere finally became an option.
But I was still lonely and didn’t know how to satisfy that hunger.
I have very few friends nearby. It seems once a person no longer goes to work each day, exhausts their desirous volunteer activities, and their neighbors move away, there are fewer opportunities to make healthy connections. I have a literal ache to make friends and spend quality time with them. I am happy to say that for the past three months, I have found that connection at a weekly class offered by the city in which I live.
The class is a combination of Tai Chi with the healthy addition of maintaining physical balance in ones’ later years. I turn seventy years old next month so it stands to reason that seeking better balance would be high on my priority list. I am receiving the benefits of such exercise with the added benefit of meeting new people and spending time with them. The twenty students in the class are all of a certain age, the youngest being 50 and the oldest appears to be in their 80s.
None of us students have perfected the art of Tai Chi. We will no doubt never reach the perfection of form demonstrated by our teacher Julie, but as she emphasizes each and every class session, “You do you” and that is exactly what I am doing.
The need to connect is still there. There are some deeper connections in the class I hope to make. But if I hadn’t sought that initial connection, the possibility of gaining a deeper connection would have no chance of happening. I guess a good way of summing up matters is to say that if I hadn’t done my part, I would still be as isolated as I was before, and suffering the same mental health deficit I felt at the beginning of this year. As Yoda of Star Wars movie franchise fame so succinctly said:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
If you don’t set a goal, you’ll never reach it. If you don’t ask, you’ll never receive. We only have one life to live. Please don’t let it expire without your participation.
You do you.
Wanting the Best for Others
Life isn’t a competition. It’s healthy to want only the best for others with whom we come in contact.
Most of the contact I have with the “outside world” is on my neighborhood walks and outings to the grocery store and the like. Yes, I’m retired from active employment but most definitely not retired from life.
With very few exceptions, I get along with everyone and manage to maintain ongoing casual relationships that benefit myself, and hopefully each person with whom I come in contact. I am on a first name basis with Tracy who scans my groceries every week, and with Patrick and Wende who bag said groceries. I am also thrilled to have met the acquaintance of Ginny, an extraordinary optical employee at my local big box store.
Ginny is a delight to know and thoroughly skilled at her job in the optical dispensary. The other morning, needing an eyeglasses adjustment, I arrived at the store just after it opened. It seems when pulling off my mask the other day, the ear loops grabbed my glasses in such a way as to mess up the alignment on my nose. Ouch! My nose was in dire straits and in need of some pain relief. Of course Ginny took care of the adjustment so that myself, and my nose, were once again in balance.
Ginny seemed a bit down so I asked how she was doing. Turns out, she found out just a few minutes before I arrived that the transfer she put in for to the store location just minutes from her home was turned down because in order to transfer, the replacement at her current location needed to be set in place. With the shortage of skilled workers so prevalent, none could be found. Ginny’s transfer to her store of choice could not proceed so her 1.25 hour work commute would need to continue, a commute she has endured for the better part of four years. My heart goes out to Ginny. I can’t change the way the big box store’s management policies are carried out, but I can be in Ginny’s corner so she doesn’t endure her disappointment alone. What I know about her is minimal from a quantitative position, but from a qualitative one, what I know is grandiose.
We don’t have to be related to a person, or see them every day, to have a connection with them – do we?
Not in the least. Given the current circumstances in which we find ourselves, we are most likely involved more peripherally than intimately with others but our impact on their lives can be still be worthwhile and vital. Think, if you will, how you felt when someone crossed your path and their actions or words robbed you of your joy. Then remember how a kind word, an extended courtesy, or a genuine smile turned your day upside down – in a good way!
It doesn’t take much to make a positive impact on each and every person we encounter.
We can make the very most of our casual contacts. A one minute encounter can go one of two ways: leave a nasty impression, or one that will greatly improve a person’s day. I want to be responsible for the latter effect; that’s what I did during the brief five minutes spent with Ginny the other day, and the very next day, I hand-delivered some heartfelt consolation in the form of an encouraging greeting card left for her at the optical department where she works so diligently. You see, I always keep an inventory of cards in my home office and God knows I have plenty of time to make a special delivery to someone in need of a virtual hug of sorts.
May you endeavor to look for opportunities to make an enriching difference in someone’s life.
OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND IF YOUR AWARENESS IS KEEN!
The importance of good neighbors
I love the fact that my husband and I have a wonderfully supportive group of neighbors in my rural Redmond, Washington location. The houses in my neighborhood are quite spread out, but within the three adjacent houses to ours reside extraordinary people who, if asked, would certainly give the shirt off their backs.
We watch out for each other. If one of us hasn’t been visible for awhile, we check to make sure all is well on the other side of the fence.
If one of us grows an over abundance of flowers in the spring and summer, we e-mail each other and invite one and all to come over to pick them so as to liven up their own homes.
When a medical issue comes up of which we become aware, there’s always an offer of transportation, or meals, or “what do you need?” extended from the four households.
I think there’s far too much seclusion in society where we fail to even know by appearance who our neighbors are. Forget even being aware of their names or their family situation; we don’t even know what they look like. It’s no wonder we read news stories where a neighbor was found deceased in their house days or weeks after the fact because no one noticed they hadn’t been visible as of late. Isn’t that a horrible statement about society, that someone could pass from this life without anyone noticing?
My neighbors and I are lucky; we care about each other and because we care about each other we watch out for each other. We’re not “besties” – we don’t get together for backyard BBQs and dinners every weekend – but we’re tuned into each other because we realize the importance of community in a world where some day, that may be the only thing upon which we can rely.
If you make New Years resolutions, how about committing yourself to meeting two or three of your neighbors before the end of 2015. I mean, how hard could that be? If you’re in a multi-unit building, start up a conversation with the person picking up their mail, or instead of feeling awkward during that elevator ride to your respective floors, strike up a conversation that may expand your immediate community from “me, myself, and I” to “you and me.”
The phrase, “I’ve got your back” is a motto that we should follow. Among other things, it means:
- I’m going to watch out for you and be a second set of eyes for you;
- I will look out for your best interests;
- I will stick up for you.
I don’t know about you, but it feels pretty darn good knowing that someone else cares enough to do that for me.