The last time I spoke with my sister, she brought up the topic of urban loneliness. Perhaps it is a recent phenomenon. It is fairly common for educated people in the developed world (any other qualifiers needed?) to have a large social network but not many close friends. Am I overstating it? Let’s rephrase. Not many people belong to communities any more. Ahh, that does not sound “proper” either. I think what I am trying (and so hard) to say is my own story.

These days, we hear a lot about the importance of social connection, community, and positive social interactions, all of which are linked to good health, longevity, mental fitness, and many other you-can-read-about-it-online benefits. Yes, I can see how that might be true. But what does one do when she isn’t particularly inclined to go join a community, engage in social interactions? What if she has to force herself to go to social gatherings and form connections?

Now, I wasn’t always like this. Or maybe I was. Maybe I wasn’t particularly enthused about social interactions and connections and gatherings but I went along, like a sporting person, gamely participating in all that stuff. And now, maybe I am finally acknowledging that I am not a fan. I prefer solitude, quiet time, less talk. But if I don’t bother engaging with others, how can I partake of the benefits of community? How do I ensure that I remain mentally fit, free of inflammation and hypertension, loneliness and other ailments?

I can only hope that when I am in that kind of a situation, I will have the strength/ability to reach out. And a hand will reach out and grasp mine in return, no questions asked.

(Not having a child sometimes makes you think of the future in all sorts of dark, grim ways.)