What good is loneliness?
these last days of the year seem to trigger all sorts of feelings. More than one major media outlet has done a story on loneliness. It is the season. It also should come as no surprise to anyone that technology and excessive work are major contributors to the spread of social isolation. What is interesting is that we might use these feelings as a signal flare for our own state of being as well as a collective response to society at large. A check engine light of sort. “Amidst the glossiness of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feeling—depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage—are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice.” (Olivia Laing, Lonely City)
Unlike other social ills, our small individual actions can have a measurable impact. Call a friend you haven't talked to in a while. No, do not send a tweet or draft an email but pick up the phone and call. It needs to be low on tech and high on the personal touch. And for those of you who are overachievers, organize a dinner. By reinforcing our own social network IRL and encouraging others in our network to do the same we start to create more resiliency and add sparkles of light in what could be a deep dark night. Pay it forward and let it ripple onward. Society is a collective construct. We are continuously making and breaking and remaking it. It's time to see the mechanic!
If you are in the Pittsburg area, check out Hello Neighbor, they pair hosts with newly settled refugee families to show them around and essentially be a good neighbor to those who are far away from their homeland. The Difference provides on-demand access to therapy as an Alexa Skill, which means you can simply shout at your Alexa enabled device and get added to a queue to speak with a train professional in as quick as 30 minutes. Since we are deep in helpful resources, remember there is always the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and The Trevor Project which is created for LGBTQ youth.
Sending you much light and love --- You are not alone!
IDEAS YOU CAN STEAL
Continuing with the theme this week, check out:
WORTH A READ
Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. This brilliant book as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and named best book of the year (2016) by NPR, Newsweek, Slate, Pop Sugar, Marie Claire, Elle, Publishers Weekly, and Lit Hub
It is a biography/memoir/cultural criticism on the subject of loneliness, told through the lives of iconic artists. It is a meander and you have to clear some time to go with Ms Laing on this journey, oh it is so worth it. It's a gorgeous insightful read irrespective to your current state of being.
For weekly readers, you already know Cairo is up next followed by Patagonia. For those of you who pop in every here and there, I will be speaking at NEXUS Cairo on informal education for refugees in the MENA region followed by El Chalten for my 40th birthday. There is a corner in our house that is slowly gathering a collection of outdoor gears in anticipation for Patagonia. I'm looking forward to both very much. If you've been to Cairo since Arab Spring or Patagonia, let me know. Love to hear your thoughts on either or both.
A chance to be a family's personal paparazzi, earn $100K and travel the world all expense paid. A friend sent it along and I thought I would share it with you. I would have been all over it in 2013-14 but less so now.
At Home. An exquisite photo essay by California Sunday Magazine with an accompanying exhibit at Aperture gallery in NYC.
2018 Fruitcake Redemption Contest hosted by Kitchen Arts and Letters. I'm so curious I'm about to play hookey and go check this out.