In a moment in time when it seems other people are not safe, it’s hard to know how to be separate but not disconnected, alone but not lonely, physically distanced but not socially distanced.
Where do you fit in all of this? What are you doing to take care of yourself with Covid safety and also emotionally?
Loneliness can lead to a wide variety of mental-emotional and even physical problems that can shorten people’s lives. Humans are not meant to be lonely. Alone isn’t bad, unless it leads to loneliness. Beginning when we are born, we are completely dependent on adults for survival. We have a biological need to be around and near other humans. We all may do that differently, whether it is a connection with friends or family or spouses or partners or co-workers or acquaintances, we need to connect with other humans. Much like we need to eat and drink water, we also need to hang out with others.
So, how can we be alone and not lonely? How can we have physical distancing not take a psychological toll on us?
We need human contact, so where and how do we have that in a safe way?
I want to invite you today to do a writing exercise to help you feel more connected to people who you are not having contact with, who you are not near. You may also want/need to write about how you do actually have safe human contact and where do you get those needs met. I want to invite you to do that as well if you feel that is something you may need to sort out- as it is for most if not all of us at some point or another during the pandemic.
Today, let’s write about people. Last week we used our imagination to remind us of the power we have to transform our thoughts and feelings. Today, I ask you to imagine you are with a friend or loved one you can’t see right now- because of the pandemic, because of distance, because of other circumstances.
Using the five senses, write about that friend or loved one.
- What is one thing you see them do?
- How does this person smell?
- What does their voice sound like?
- What does their skin feel like? Or what do you imagine it feels like?
- Is there a food or drink that reminds you of them, that brings a taste to your mouth?
- And one memory of them or future casting- I would like to…
Consider using their name. Imagine what it would be like to be with them right now or tomorrow morning, just to spend time with them. What would you be like in this scene? Don’t limit yourself in what you write, however it comes out, just write it down!
Here is an example:
My grandfather reads the paper early mornings,
scent of Old Spice and newsprint, coffee on his breath.
When he talks to me, he always sounds like
he’s clearing his throat to speak, but his voice
comes through with stories from another time,
when his uncle washed his car in the middle of a creek,
about his friend in the war, a hospital in a foggy
European countryside where he heard
my grandmother’s voice call to him from the other side of the planet.
I taste the syrup of red seed fruit in my cheeks from strawberries
and powdered sugar in a bowl prepared for me by my grandmother.
I would give anything for those stories now,
a paste of sugar dissolving on my tongue.
This exercise can be done out of order, it can be done using ‘you’ more or less than I used myself in my example poem. My grandfather is no longer alive, so there is definite distance, but I miss him greatly and when I feel lonely, I think of him. Writing about him in the present, in a poem or even just writing a memory of him reminds me of him in a way that feels good, that leaves me feeling less lonely and like I am closer to him.
Who can you write about today to use your aloneness in a way that allows you to think of someone you care about and leaves you feeling closer to that person?
Write about someone else, even if it isn’t in the format I lay out.
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