One of the true joys of the holidays is being able to spend time with friends and relatives that we may not get to see very often. Despite the joy however, there may also be stress from being confined with friends and relatives for extended periods of time. The more time spent together the smaller the room becomes and time may slow down to a crawl. Another way of saying this might be, “I love my family, relatively speaking.”
When we are around people for longer periods of time even extroverts can find themselves coveting some alone time. Of course, everyone experiences the holidays differently. Perhaps most of us are not placed in this circumstance and can’t relate to the stress.
Those who find themselves away from loved ones over the holidays experience a very different kind of stress – loneliness. That may be a kind of stress that even makes an introvert go stir crazy. For me, that kind of loneliness was more common when I was younger and found myself on my own. As I’ve gotten older I become increasingly more content to have time by myself.
I have an important distinction now – the power of an invisible network of friends. The more significant connections I have in My life the easier it becomes to be content while alone. Simply having expanded networks of connections, in and of itself, provides a safety net against loneliness.
A commercial that has been popular lately talks about a woman who made a solo boat trip across the ocean. She is sharing how other people commented about how difficult it would be to be on such a trip all by yourself. Her comment is that she wasn’t alone. Her grandfather whom she has always been a special person was with her. Her teacher who instilled in her the confidence to take risks was with her. Her parents who always supported her independence were with her. Her children and her husband, who have always told her she can do whatever she sets her mind to were with her. No, she may have been by herself, but she was never alone.
I find that to be a pretty comforting thought. How much easier it is to take up a challenge that is well thought through when we have an invisible network of friends to support us.
All of this gives me empathy for the multitudes of refugees who have been driven out of the homes and homelands. Those who have lost parents and spouses and children and friends, killed by repressive and immature regimes grounded in demonic ideologies. Risking life and limb and defying all odds they leave everything they have acquired behind and pay exorbitant fees to be transported to foreign shores with only an undefined trust in the goodness of humanity that they will be taken in.It makes the kind of loneliness I’ve felt become pretty insignificant.
If this realization alone is not enough take all joy out of living, there is something left that will surely accomplish it. They are being met with unfounded fear by the most privileged country in the world and powerful political voices calling for them to be refused entry to our shores. Some voices of fear that would call for not only denying them entry into our country, also suggest deporting everyone in our country who looks like them, speaks like them, has their bloodlines, or, most notably, who share their religious convictions, to be quarantined, sequestered, segregated and deported.
There are many divides between us, perhaps none as stark as those who live their lives out of abundance, and those who live their lives out of scarcity. When scarcity prevails there is darkness that is profound.
For many of us, the holidays we celebrate in November through the first of the new year can be a momentary respite from despair.
May we all connect in love and joy, and expand the expression of this to include everyone.
Peace and JoyTagged with: Mindfulness • Musings and Observations • stress