We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, December 12. 2014
Reposted and revised -
It's a cliche, isn't it? (I don't know how to put accents on words on this machine.) Lonely and isolated people feel lonelier during holidays.
Let's all think about, and try to include, the lonely this year.
We are told that holidays are supposed to be times of special social fun as well as family time, whether the 4th of July, Thanksgiving (we always try to include some close friends), or Christmas season which many like to use as an excuse for throwing a party for all their 200 closest friends or just a fish supper with a handful of good pals on Christmas Eve after church (with Eggnog of course).
People obviously vary a great deal in the extent of their social connections and (cliche again) one can easily be lonely in a crowd. Many prefer to be isolated but I think there is a basic human need to be "in community," to have human connections of all sorts outside of family. We are tribal creatures. I feel sad for those who lack tribes with whom to touch base and reconnect during the holiday season. That makes it depressing indeed because it's supposed to be about fun fun fun and party party party, right?
(As an ex-drinker who used to have some degree of social insecurities, I have learned how to have a good time at parties anyway. I like to touch base with the people I enjoy, and I like to walk up to strangers and say "Hi. I'm Joy. I don't think we've met." If they don't love me, it's their loss but maybe mine too. Rejection is just part of life, and many people seem to feel that they already know enough people unless you wow them in some way.)
There are many ingredients to constructing a satisfying life, but what a satisfying life means is different for everybody. However, I believe that to be in community, or really a part of multiple communities, is a key component. Some care about it more than others, for certain. With a little luck, the construction begins with an anchor solidly lodged in immediate or extended family, and extends, in separate but often-overlapping circles, out from there depending on what one does or decides to build.
And I do mean "build." Like career, community is never handed to you on a silver platter. I like to connect with interesting, intelligent, positive, and amusing people with interesting and adventurous lives. Who doesn't? On Saturday night, I met a gent, a retired banker, who covered the erection of the Berlin Wall for the New York Times when he was 21 years old. He had taken his grandkids to the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin this summer. I want to include him, and his wife, in one of my circles.
More below -
Finding people with whom we have affinity and comfort is not easy especially for the shy, and seeking at least a few which go beyond the superficial is a wholesome and worthwhile life challenge. For example, I do not need any more friends who love to discuss handbags because my handbag interest is two minutes deep. Possibly three minutes.
I discussed the topic somewhat in my post Class, Social Capital, and Character Traits. I am ambivalent about Murray's concept of "social capital" because it sounds cold. Human connections are only cold for cold people.
Sometimes I ask patients to create a Venn diagram of the human communities in which they live and form relationships, beginning with family and extended family as the necessary and solid core - regardless of how one may feel about them at a given moment. It can be illuminating.
The categories (Venn circle diagrams) that I suggest include things like:
Family and the people who are "like family"
and so on.
It can be a bit of a drafting challenge when there are plenty of overlapping circles. but that results when one has built "an established life," a well-rooted and integrated life over years.
I drew one such diagram out for myself last year, and it was an interesting little project. As readers might imagine, with a very social, outgoing, and sporting professional businessman spouse, and with all of my interests and activities and sports, and friends going back to boarding school years, my Venn diagram is complex but helps me understand why it's a challenge for me to maintain the connections that matter to me and to us as a family. One reason to hold a Christmastime party, or any get-together, is to honor, or acknowledge, all of the people who are part of the fabric of our lives in some positive way.
We care about more people than we can fit in our antique farmhouse.
Let's all try to take care of the lonely this holiday season.
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When I was whining a long time ago to the priest/confessor of my youth about my miserable Christmases, he kindly reminded me "Jesus doesn't care nearly as much about your happiness as He does about the smallest steps towards holiness."
I still get lonely much of the time, but the best cure for seasonal misery (sometimes overtures are rebuffed, families are faraway or dead, etc) is to help somebody else, preferably anonymously. Gives perspective, and makes you happy. And even if you are still a grouch, somebody else is a little less miserable.
your confessor was a moron who clearly doesn't understand the first thing about helping people.
Instead of berating you for feeling bad about being lonely, he should have tried to help you find ways to not be lonely.
But oh no, he had to show he was Holier than Thou by berating you for feeling bad and telling you that however bad you feel there's people who are worse off that you should be helping instead.
The same thing he no doubt tells everyone.
I wonder what he'd say if you told him you were feeling bad because you have cancer.
No doubt it'd be something like "rejoice as you will join The Lord soon in Heaven".
Years of being in front of college classrooms and then after a career change, years of dealing with customers helped me be more comfortable dealing with people in general - and also earned me lot of those connections you're talking about. In the end though, it was about me being comfortable with myself that made it easier to talk to strangers one on one and build those connections. The holidays can be hard for me, but I'm dealing with that by trying to get comfortable with the fact that sometimes the holidays are just hard for me - and I'll live.
Dr. Bliss, given your name I am sure meeting you would be just heavenly. I care about other people and their problems and I give to ministries like Operation Blessing and World Vision. But you know what? My next door neighbors are buttwholes and I would not help them extinquish a fire. If I were endangered I would just wait for the results and the opportunity to sue. I grow peas in the garden in the summer time and there is another man who grows the same. I pass by his patch on my way into town. I have often thought of stopping by and talking peas with him but I have not. I grow now more peas than I can eat so what advice do I need from him? Loneliness is just another word for insecurity.
--i had a lucky strike on a joint venture in the Haynesville shale recently, and when the checks started coming i directed 'em to an automatic deposit with distribution to a gifting program to kids. But something made me think of, they should learn how a habit of giving feels (i never did make the habit, i always defaulted to, my family is my charity), so in the midst of setting the account we stuck in a 10% roll-off the top of each check for a charity account. The kids will run the charity giving, taking turns per quarter picking their own charity. There's four kids so the rotation works easily. There's three grandkids, they each get a whole share every second month, direct into a compounding interest vehicle (ever look at a dollar compounded 20, 40, 60 years? even at low rates, bro-o-ther!).
The youngest kid still in school gets a kid share plus for the next two years a grandkid half share too, so the rotation is 4/8 (checks come in, lose 10% to charity, then the remainder gets divided by four, then the next loses 10% then gets divided by eight, then four, then eight, and on and one, for the life of the program.
All that info was to set up the point, the kids (young adults on their own, actually --'kids' as in, at 90 you're still your parent's kid) are extra-tickled, outsized up-spirited, by the tithe --researching their own choices. The first two quarters are set, middle daughter to choose the next (she married into a Jewish family, and converted, so i'm hoping she'll buy a few Uzis for the IDF, first things first). Currently we are in the first of the program choices, son as the eldest chose Wounded Warriors, with St Jude's Children's Hospital, by eldest daughter mother of two and baby-aware, next up. The youngest may choose the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but what're ya gonna do, i forgot to rule anything out --tho i may have to intrude and add a guideline of 'let's not do silly stuff, ok?' --tho for all i know, the R&R Hall of Fame may do more good than any others, and she may be way ahead of me.
This little tithe project has been a great, great Christmas gift to them. They'll be raising the tithe from 10% of the group to 10% apiece, 40% by the group, i'm predicting --tho i won't say a word to the effect, to leave the burnish of their own coming to the conclusion of ''ought''.
Anyhoo, that automatic feature means a selfish, greedy, hard-hearted, mean bastard only has to override himself the one time, not every month, not even every year -- whew!
--thanks bd --tho it's as much a 'fracking' story not to mention a fractal story, fracking being a gift to the free world from Gaia --a rather telling empirical statement from the old girl, if ya ask me.
rhhardin, below --LOL --yes it is for a fact. One can enjoy the idea of companionship a lot more than companionship, i've (cough) heard.
Buddy, you should have designed and built Obamacare. It would be purring like a kitten along about now.
First, congratulations to you and your family on your economic success!
Second, I love what you have decided to do and how you have included even the children in your giving. I wish I could do the same someday.
I think everyone has the conversation at one time in their lives about what they would do if they won the lottery. My husband and I both have talked about charitable work that we would do, as we aren't 'luxury' type of people. How freeing it would be to give to causes that meant something to you, in a significant way to really be impactful.
It must feel good to be able to give so much!
We should not give to "feel good," although it certainly feels good to give. The widow in Christ's story did not give her "mite" to feel good; she gave out of love and care and concern. She may have dreamed of what grand giving she could indulge in if she had a lot of money, but I doubt it. She just gave, out of the goodness of her heart and her thankfulness to God. I dread to think what shape the Salvation Army (a truly wonderful organization) would be in if every soul passed by the bucket dreaming and vowing what they would do when they "strike it rich," or their "ship comes in" etc.
Take up math or physics. You're never lonely.
Human contact once a year is probably too much.
I did. Somehow we wound up with 5 kids anyway.