Lately I have been hearing a lot about how lonely people feel. Parents who spend all day with their children feeling unseen and unheard, individuals living in rural landscapes for the beauty but lacking the connections they crave, even those that live in the city, surrounded by people but doing most things alone from daily meals to walks and watching a movie. We are more connected than ever in our global technological world, yet our connections are not feeding us, we are craving more.
Gathering in circle with a group of women last weekend, we all spoke of wanting more of this connection. One spoke of making it a monthly coming together, some plaintive and some excited yeses arouse, and almost instantly came all the reasons that won’t work. “Summers are hard.” “Sometimes I have to work.” “I’ll be out of town a lot.” “Sundays are tough…” I cannot help but wonder, if we crave this so much, why do we not prioritize it? And if we don’t prioritize it, are we not creating the very loneliness we speak about.
Mothers are raising children alone! Fathers are busy working to support them, not doing what truly makes their heart sing for the prioritizing of money and family needs. And children, crave the company of their electronics more and more as instant gratification grows to be of utmost importance. Good beautiful thoughtful people sit alone on Saturday nights, too exhausted from the week of work and unable to bring themselves to have one more conversation that lacks depth and meaning. What are we doing here? Are we afraid of this? Are we missing the point of living with this world together? We are not mean to live this way.
How have circles of coming together to share what is truly in our hearts and souls, to be heard and seen no matter what, left our daily and cultural lives?
Or, is it possible that, we would feel lonely no matter what, is this the way of things in our current era? And is this a statement of being unable to support and sit with our many differences.
Have we lost the knowing of how something a simple as sitting and listening to each other can make a HUGE difference?
I feel lonely almost all the time, mostly because I feel different, and misunderstood, and because so often things I say are twisted into something I never meant, depending on the person I am talking to. But when I sit in circle, I don’t get the, “I understand.”, or “I feel that.” or “Maybe you should try…” I just get to speak and listen from the heart. I get to feel myself provoked and come alive by your story, and I get to hear how my story struck a cord in you. I get to discover purpose and who I am in the spirit of the community and process of being seen. Through Council, I am forever changed by the sharing of stories. Stories, that on the surface can seem unrelated, yet in the being with (rather than doing something about), taps into the depth and mythology of the human experience, that I do not get anywhere else.
This is an experience I hope we are all willing to make more of a priority; over work, or errands or emails or allegiance to just one person to hold us completely when we could have a collective to take off some of the weight on one person. We need community to hold us to our personal and collective stories, it is why we crave it so much. Life changes us, phases of life move us through passages, and if we do it this alone, if we lack the witnesses to our experiences, can we be sure it’s really happening?