Monday, January 7, 2008

You had me at, "Hello..."

"We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness."
~Albert Schweitzer

It seems nearly inconceivable to me that, on a planet so filled with people, there are so many of us who are lonely. Why? The answer is simple. We speed through our lives, treating each other as obstacles to go around. We've lost the ability to see time as a flowing river, rather than a measure of something we move through in increments.

When I was a nanny, people would schedule play dates for their children. Schedule play dates!? Heck, when I was a kid, we never scheduled play time! We never called ahead. We went over to a friend's house, knocked on the door and said, "Can you come out and play?" Odds were usually pretty good that the friend was able to do so, or would tell us to come back in half an hour when they were done with chores or schoolwork. We'd run all over the neighborhood until someone's mother called one of us in. And, my fellow Paleozoic era pals, remember? They actually called in the form of a holler - not on a cell phone! "Barrrrrrrr-beeeeee!!!! Dinnnnnerrrrrrr!!!!"

As adults we, as friends, feel the need to make appointments to see each other. "What are you doing next Friday? Let's plan to get together." I'm not saying anything is so terribly wrong with that, but spontaneity is gone, and that's sad. When was the last time anyone called, or you called anyone and said, "Hey, whatchya doin'? Let's go have some fun." It's rare. I'm guilty of the same thing.

When was the last time you genuinely smiled and said hello to a stranger? When was the last time you said, "Screw the microwavable meal and the tv schedule, I'm gonna call (insert name here) and see if they want to have dinner." ? When was the last time you thought of a friend or family member you hadn't spoken to in years, and then actually picked up the phone to call them? (Don't tell me you can't find them. In this online world, no one is invisible anymore. No one is off the grid.)

I spoke with my mother yesterday and she mentioned that six months ago, she had bumped into the mother of one of my childhood friends, a woman who was a friend of hers from the old, old neighborhood. They hadn't seen each other in years. Mom and Mavis are finally getting together for dinner today. I just think that's cool!

When it comes to strangers, we move around them and through them - sometimes barely saying hello, sometimes even treating them with disdain for existing. We push our grocery carts through crowded aisles and aggressively say, "Excuse me!" rather than pleasantly saying, "Hi there! Whew... it's about as crowded as the I-405 in here isn't it! Mind if I get by?" Imagine the difference that would make in someone's day? Imagine the difference slowing down for two seconds would make in your day? Imagine the richness that would come to your life at acknowledging, in a positive way, the existence of another human being, and the possibility that the other human being has thoughts, feeling, emotions and a life of their own? What if someone took time to show you the same consideration? Imagine.

So, my challenge to you this week. Every day, take time to smile and say hello to at least one stranger. Betchya by the end of the week it's a habit, and you just never know who you might meet. Every day, take a few minutes to call one person that you don't normally call and say, "Was thinking about you. How are you?" If they're local, treat 'em to a half an hour of your time and a cup o' bean.

Life would be so much better if we lived by those ideals. I promise to try. Will you? There's no excuse for loneliness. There are a g'zillion of us around. Let's bridge this separateness in our lives, shall we? Who do we have, if not each other.


  1. how right you are Barbeeee! it amazes me these days about Play dates! up here on "my island" I do see more smiles from strangers. works for me!
    love ya
    Island girl

  2. So, Island Girl... when we havin' dinner?! Don't make me row over there an getchya!


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