Good morning mister sunshine, you brighten up my day
Come sit beside me in your way
I see you every morning, outside the restaurants
The music plays so nonchalant
Lonely days, lonely nights.
Where would I be without my woman?
It was several years before the Brothers Gibb switched to size small jockeys and started shrieking “Ah-ah-ah-ah stayin’ alive” that I first heard their earlier song Lonely Nights. It was the middle of an Alaskan winter, I was a senior in high school in between girlfriends and feeling lonely as only a seventeen-year-old can know…and I had no idea that there would come a day where I daily dealt with an even deeper state of alone-ness.
Please excuse the pun but I am not alone in this matter. The 11 January issue of THE WEEK magazine contains an article that hit very close to home for me, an article entitled: “An Epidemic of Loneliness”. It cites multiple studies from around the world that all conclude that a LOT of us are lonely and it doesn’t do us one bit of good.
Connections have been found between loneliness and:
- Mental issues like insomnia, depression and
- Physical issues like increased risk for heart attack and weakened immune system
- Social issues like increased political polarization.
There are plenty of reasons for this increased state of isolation to include the breakdown of the family unit, the often-transient nature of work and the emotional pitfalls found in social media. I’ve seen it in my own life – thirty years ago in addition to my family and local friends I had a circle of about twenty people I would routinely correspond with but now contact from anyone other than my Beautiful Saxon Princess and one or two friends is very sporadic.
I’m not going to snivel about how lonely I get slaving away in my studio, but I would like to suggest that you take a moment each day and think about those friends and relatives that might be shut-in or otherwise isolated. We live in perilous times and while so many of the terrors that lurk in our lives seem insurmountable (taking away my old aerosol cans won’t make a bit of difference to the ozone layer) this a problem that individually we can actually do something about.
It brings to mind a story I heard of a man who’d walk along the beach at low tide to pick up stranded starfish and throw them back in the water. He was told “ You’re just wasting your time – there are thousands of stranded critters! Do you really think you’re making any difference?” to which the man replied (after replacing yet another starfish):
“I made a difference to that one!”
OK – so my inner hippie is showing, but please, please pick up the phone, tap at your keyboard or write a letter to that invalid uncle, your old room-mate who’s now a single mom, your high school buddy who’s now a widower – anyone that you know who’s fighting to get through each day alone.