One day I sat contemplating my loneliness, i.e. Feeling sorry for myself. I decided I would make a list in my journal of all my friends that I could call if I ever wanted a chat, art break, glass of wine, coffee chat or knit break. As my list filled with names I realized my loneliness was out of a lack of purposeful interaction not a lack of options. It isn’t that I don’t have life giving relationships in my life, it was that I wasn’t making an intention to interact with those people. While I have been blessed with many different friends I suspect every one of us has a list of at least five people who, given some effort, could be pleasant company for at least a short time.
There is a place for being alone. It is a place of reflection, meditation, relaxation and peace. Often we aren’t comfortable with the quiet and lack of distraction. My favorite author Henri Nouwen writes. “It is the most basic human loneliness that threatens us and is so hard to face. Too often we will do everything possible to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone, and sometimes we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition. Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but our emotional and mental pain as well. We not only bury our dead as if they were still alive, but we also bury our pains as if they were not really there. We have become so used to this state of anesthesia that we panic when there is nothing or nobody left to distract us.” It is good exercise for us to question if we need an uptick in human interaction or if we are trying to avoid ourselves. The thing to remember is that aloneness does not have to equal loneliness.
I would encourage you to make a list of your friends and relatives that give you life. On a day when you are down, discouraged and feeling alone, refer back to that list and pick up the phone. Send a text, make a call or write an email. If they don’t respond do not assume its about you. Assume that they, like you, have busy lives and you may have hit them on a rough day. The point is, putting yourself out there instead of waiting for the world to call on you is how we grow relationships. Your friends will appreciate your effort as much as your soul does.