This story is not of a 60 year old, forlorn parent whose children have flown the nest. This is not an abandoned spouse trying to find meaning and context in life. But this is a lonesome soul in this noisy-people-filled-metro. It is a 30 something young, successful executive living in the pulsating heart of the city.
He has an envious lifestyle- a challenging and highly paying job, a plush apartment in the suburbs and an active social life. But when he returns home to the comforts of his swank apartment, he is overcome by loneliness, disorientation and emptiness. He doesn't want to leave the office lest he has to meet his lonely existence. The bustling noisy night spots, he so frequently visits, is full of people he knows but doesn't care about. This pool of familiar faces fails to assuage emptiness within. The rivalry gives him no pleasure and each day brings with it despair and hopelessness.
An increasing number of young people in the city are leading lonely lives. The loneliness is not due to lack of playmates but due to absence of connection with ones we hold dear. The security and familiarity that mundane things of life bring with them, is missing. The effort to reach out to friends and family is sacrificed for convenience, work, mates, and internet time and self-space. “ Maintaining a balance between work and relations is now a forgotten art. In the drive to gain more, very fast, emotional ties take a back seat and it's only later when one has gone a wee bit too far that the realization of what's lost sinks in. Can be attributed to the subconscious decisions that slowly reflect our prioritizing materialistic gains over relations in life. This needs to be checked, but with the ever growing emotional distances, it becomes increasingly difficult to break the cycle .” Shalini Katoch, Channel Head, Indiatimes Dating.
The efforts to fill the lacuna of real relations often results in superficial and shallow relationships but fail to give any emotional cover whatsoever. Neetika Seth, Counseling Psychologist with Amity Care says, “ In this hustle bustle of life, we all are surviving rather than living. We are constantly struggling to keep up with our artificial self and in the deal forgetting about our real self. There are connections that we all keep maintaining with one another but on a very superficial level. These relationships exist in vacuum and that is the reason we feel the sense of emptiness. We need to understand that humans are social animals and need to connect with people. But at the same time these relations have to have a depth and meaning.”
What is missing is the understanding of the fact that human relations and emotions need nurturing and touch. They need empathy and availability. They work outside the periphery of the self and its self centered needs. Human relations breed on the fertile ground of commitment and connection that only those who love and cherish us truly, can provide. The essence lies in the recognition that we are special in this world not because of ourselves because of the people around us who think we are special. And without that re-iteration from our loved ones, our self-esteem are never going to blossom. In a vacuum - good, bad, excellent, loved, hated are just meaningless terms. They neither give pleasure nor anxiety.
“ Lonely planets revolving in a space called earth….a global phenomenon that goes along with the current age, technology and mind set of people. It's just that it was not talked about earlier, now it's not only talked about, it's out there like a plague. Some confess to it openly and talk to friends and seek refuge in work while others go through it silently. Help in the form of self-help books, websites, counsellors is available but these are people busy taking advantage of the so-called emotionally unfit. In a scenario such as this, there is either the determination to find solutions, or a resigning attitude.” says Mona Shipley, Manager Scholarships, Training & Exchanges, and The British Council
It is not a sound bank balance that ensures a happy human being.Children and adults with sound and caring family backgrounds, show traits of adaptability and satisfaction in higher degrees. The well provided may be comfortable but not necessarily content, unless they keep their choices right.
Worldly accomplishments and joys are joyful only if we have people in our lives who feel proud of our accomplishments. That is why during every award function, the awardee, who is revered and adored, looks for his loved ones to share the joy with and acknowledge their role in his ascent. Amidst the crowd, it is the eye of your loved one he/she wants to catch to relive the struggle they underwent to reach the summit. The lovely cars and houses are just objects which money can buy and people can envy. They become home, treasured possessions only when shared with near and dear ones.
There is this lovely story of a boy who goes to a fair with his parents. When they are returning after a long day, the child asks for a set of colorful balloons. His father says, “Another day child”. They move forward and the child asks for sweets and mother says, “We will come back later child, let's go home now.” The boy starts weeping and throwing a tantrum. They pass a toy kiosk and the boy sprawls on the ground and demands a toy. The parents cajole him and move forward. They stand to watch a street show of acrobats. Suddenly, the boy realizes that his parents are not near him. He panics and starts weeping. He feels so alone and lost.
A man sees the weeping child and tries to pacify him by giving him colorful balloons. Between the sobs he says, “I want my mother. I don't want the balloon”. The man takes him to the announcement counter. The child is inconsolable. The man stops to buy him some sweets and the child pushes his hand away saying, “I want my father!” An announcement is made about the lost child. As they wait, the child continues sobbing. The man runs to the toy shop and gets him a colorful toy. The boy doesn't even lift up his eyes to look at the toy.
His eyes light up when he sees his harried parents rushing in his direction. He runs to them. Through the tearful face, a sunshine of smile peeps out. He tells his parents about the good uncle and points to the toy in his hand saying, “That is for me.” And everyone laughs out aloud.
This is just to say that things, position, success- all are of value only if we have our special people to share them with. It is for us to figure out how much happiness should we attribute to material things and how much can we rejoice while we live in a vacuum. The only solution to loneliness is much evidently connecting and reaching out to loved ones. If you're forlorn, pick up your phone and connect. Catch up with your aunt, meet an old friend or listen to the chatter of your talkative friend. Offer to take your mom shopping or stop to ask your grandma her about her soaps. Just walk up to your father and give him a hug for no reason. Or just relate a crazy incident at school and share some laughs. Make your presence felt in the world. Your loved ones will like it and so will you. Remain connected. You shall not be lonely if you ‘ love' to live.