Sunday, February 17, 2008

Put a little love in your heart....

First of all, I want to thank all of you who left me comments and sent private notes over the past few days. You have no idea how grateful I am for that thoughtfulness (even when you challenged me) because I don't have the words. May the karma gods smile on all of you. I know I am.

I was reading a post earlier on Annie's site and it got me thinking.

We are all in this together. There are thousands of us, literally, reading posts at this very moment. There are thousands more of us sitting in living rooms, watching TV or listening to music. Reading books. Some are sitting in dark bars, sucking down the next drink. Someone is smoking crack. Someone is crying. Someone is alone.

Thousands of us are alone.

This simply doesn't have to be. It leads me to wonder why there is so much loneliness when there are so many of us. We waste our time forming little groups, validating ourselves by shutting others out (I'll be writing a post on social networking sites later - and, yes, it's biting), spend inordinate amounts of time on our own petty concerns and then claim we don't have any time and allow ourselves to be mindless. We forget the real purpose we are all here.

This should be simple. It should be evident. And no one should have to be alone unless they want to be. And we shouldn't have to shop for companionship the way we shop for our shoes or our kitchen appliances.

One of the things I experienced in Thailand is a social openness that I can't even imagine here. I was included in things when I didn't even know the people. I got casual invitations at markets, in stores, during walks. I was another human being and was invited by other human beings who assumed that I was just like them.

People waved to me as I sat on the balcony, exchanging pleasantries and smiling even though we didn't speak the same language. I can "swadee ka" with the best of them but this went beyond that. We communicated with our eyes, with our touch, with our gestures.

There is very little loneliness there. In fact, if anything, alone time is rare.

I could go into a full tilt rap about all the reasons for loneliness here. I could write a sociological analysis but I don't want to. We can unknowingly justify this stuff by over-intellectualizing it. It isn't an intellectual issue. It is a human issue.

It is a choice. Not inviting is a choice. Being mindless is a choice. Snubbing is a choice. Judging is a choice. Not being kind is a choice.

At some point, we have to decide who we are going to be in this world. We have to make choices that stretch us, make us a bit kinder, make us more conscious of others. A post like Annie's should never have to be written. My warrior spirit wants to slay that dragon.

Speak to someone. Pick up the damn phone. Do something to make someone else's world better. Please choose kindness.



flutter said...

I agree that we all have choices, and I think that extends to everyone.

If you are feeling neglected, then reach out to someone else, if you are feeling alone, volunteer to those who truly have no one. I think getting outside of yourself helps those feelings and gives you a sense of purpose.

Annie Z said...

Chani, what a wonderful post! I am amazed at this amazing response. This is so insightful and, for me, heartwarming.

Thailand sounds like a wonderful place to be.

I am the sort of person who will always get out there and look for friendships, but so far haven't found a real mutual connection with someone. Lots of great times, but no real friendships. No one who will call up and say "how are ya? Do you want to get together?". I'm sure that soon my current state will shift and I will get out there again, but at the moment it is all so one sided.

Thank you for your wonderful support and thoughts.
Much love,

Anvilcloud said...

Well, here's a cyber ((hug)) to you.

Girlplustwo said...

we do all have choices. and we all have some sort of pain. it seems so easy, so resolveable, and yet in the moment, the pain can get the worst of us.

it's always hardest to reach out.

Sid said...

I think the reason that most people don't simply just invite strangers along to anything is because experience has taught us to be afraid of them. Some of us have been robbed and hurt. We see horror stories every day. We no longer trust strangers. We suspect everyone. We simply aim to protect ourselves.

QT said...

Chani - I have experienced the closeness you describe, but in a different way. Whenever I visit my mother's family in South America, I am never alone. There is always someone - a cousin, a nephew or niece, an aunt or uncle - with me or who wants to go do something. Family groups are much more stable there, for lack of a better word. Here, I think with so much divorce, the same close-knit groups are not possible.

The elderly are also treated much differently there - they are not put into homes very often unless there is a serious medical issue. The fabric of life is just completely different.

Though I am alone right now, I am still cherishing it, for the most part. My time will come, I am sure. Thank you for an insightful post today.

ewe are here said...

Ahhh, although I'm not 'alone', with my husband and boys, I do understand feeling lonely and snubbed.

It can be really hard to be new and American over here. Every time we move, I have to work so d*mn hard trying to get people to include me and my boys in the local groups. I go out of my way to be friendly, to say 'hi', to introduce myself and my boys, to invite people to do things, to just be nice to people and try to strike up a conversation, and yet I feel like so many doors just get slammed in my face for all my efforts. They have friends; they don't need any more. I'm not from here; they're not interested. I'm ____; they're ____.

Whatever happened to just being nice and friendly and inclusive for the sake of being nice and friendly and inclusive?

AT some point I'm' sure I'll post on this myself... I've been trying to ignore the snubs and make some friends in our new village, but it can be slow going.

S said...

Nothing makes me angrier than thinking about all of the lonely people in this country.

It just doesn't have to be that way.

storyteller said...

Wonderful reminder of individual choice in each moment! If giving and receiving are the same (as ACIM teaches and I believe to be true) we can but give to ourselves when we give to others ... so everyone wins when we "reach out and touch someone" with a bit of loving kindness.
Hugs and blessings,

Amy Y said...

This was very well put, Chani!

We experienced lonliness until we moved to our current neighborhood where people DO invite you, DO wave and say hello, DO talk to your kids and DO let you borrow an egg if you need one. My neighbor has a newborn and her hubby is deployed in the middle east and her driveway gets shoveled each time it snows. I love it!

I wish it were like this everywhere... I feel so so lucky to have landed where we did.

Angela said...

And remember, Chani, Annie is in yet a different culture from our American one. I felt sad from her post, too. But I think we can always decide to not be alone, we may just have to decide it doesn't have to be the man of our dreams or our best friend ever in the world. Old-folks need visiting, children need guidance, we, the young (well, ok, relatively) and healthy should be the ones reaching out. I think.

painted maypole said...

a great challenge, to both choose how we live, and also how we treat others

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Hey, Chani, there's an award for you at my place. I know how you feel about them so just suck it up, ok?

It's just that I couldn't leave you out of this one.

Aliki2006 said...

This is what I've been trying to drive into my students--the importance of reaching out and making a connection, even if it you are reluctant at first. They are dragging their feet about this service project they need to do in the next couple weeks and I'm trying hard not to get too frustrated with them.

Jen said...

Great post! I think Sid may be right, but if that's true here, it's certainly true in parts of Thailand, as well, and yet there the choice is to be friendly.

We have so many choices in life, and it's up to us to make the positive ones.

Julie Pippert said...

I berated myself today on a tangent of this topic. I rode home from school on my bike, my two children in the trailer, and watched two friends trade kids for playdates (arranged in front of me, but not including me). I wanted to not feel bad, but I did---why was my daughter not invited, too? I wanted to understand, but was troubled. I paused and pondered. Should I have asked? Do I invite those children over? Would I have invited both or felt it was too much for me?

I do occasionally feel on the outside of that friendship, the third wheel. I feel the why of this is a shared situation.

But all of that thought and that story to say that I think, in the end, we have more power, often, than we think, and I've noticed my friendships vary depending upon where my heart is and how open it is. It's scary to think that, I guess. It's easier for me to put it on others, and some of it does belong there. As does our lifestyle, which is often one of too busy and isolation.

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. I mean this as regards em and my current friend situation, which is in a place known for friendliness, and with established friendships.

As to the general of it, and other situations...that's more complicated.

But I wanted to clarify.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for inclusiveness and kindness.

Where I fail is keeping it up...People don't tend to be very understanding when I am not up for togetherness and communicating with the frequency that "friendship" seems to require.

Mariposa said...

I just DID just that Chani before coming here! Oh are so right!

Another thought provoking post! Please accept my Excellent Award. ;)

Mary said...

I often think of why I blog. Because I spend too many hours in the evening posting and reading others' blogs when I should be picking up the damned phone. I'm not living in a social place. I used to have neighbors who would hang on the fence and talk for hours - take walks - social people. Now I'm living in a neighborhood, in a new state, where I rarely see anyone. I don't even know the first names of some of my next-door neighbors. One reason I blog is because I'm lonely. If people weren't so caught up in their busy lives, I could show them my koi pond and we could sit and chat for a while.

Sorry, I ranted here. But I really should spend a lot less time on the computer and start be productive.

mitzh said...

Just knowing that we have a choice is truly something. Cause the most saddest thing is knowing that we can choose but choose not to.

Reaching out is hard, I know. But it is something so rewarding.

Ian Lidster said...

People in our society isolate due to fear. And that's a sad commentary and leads to paranoid loneliness.

Janet said...

We're getting nailed by snowfall where I live, this winter. We have a neighbour who live alone and has been laid up for months with knee surgeries and complications. Although the neighbour has family visiting every day, my husband has been cleaning out his driveway after the bad storms. After one such event the neighbour said to my husband, "You don't know how much this means to me. I can't thank you enough."

My point is that appearances can be deceiving. People can always use more kindness even when they appear to have lots of help. It feels good to reach out to other people. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

It is a choice. And since our society seems to begin with groups and shunning those unlike ourselves, its a crappy choice. I am so glad you wrote about this. We need more reminders that we are making choices that affect and hurt us and others.

Jane said...


This was an amazing post and I'm coming back here often. What you said about not having to shop for our relationships made me literally want to move away from my keyboard, stand up and cheer wildly! I couldn't agree more. If I have to hear one more time that I should get on to EHarmony, I'll vomit. The thought of a questionaire-job interview style of meeting a mate is insane to me. I can't meet your standards if we don't match up on 15 out of 17 ideal standards??? UUUGGGHHH!

Thanks for reminding us of the true value of connecting our hearts in so many ways.