Alone Vs Lonely

Are we alone?
These past two weeks have been an incredible test to all of us. We are enclosed in our homes, not inviting people in, not going out either. My daughter who works as a nurse practitioner in Philadelphia goes to the hospital to serve her patients. And when she returns home, she comes to an empty apartment. Her husband is completing his residency in Brooklyn, New York. And with the fear and anxiety of the coronavirus they refrain from visiting often. She’s alone.

I’m sure she’s not the only one. So many in our society are now by themselves. And I am not only talking about seniors. Do you feel alone?

Are you alone?

I always find comfort within the treasure of the Hebrew language and right now it is no surprise that I lean into the Hebrew language for support and encouragement. I want to share with you a small but mighty gem. The word alone in Hebrew is levad, לבד. The first two letters construct the word lev, which means heart. The final letter,ד, is a letter symbolizing a doorway.
So what does the word alone really mean in its truest essence? It’s the opening of the heart. It’s the entering into the heart, turning inward to the self. It’s using the doorway to discover the depths of your heart.

Being alone does not necessarily mean that you’re lonely. Especially now with so many virtual gatherings online. Many of us have access to more people, events, and learnings then ever before.

We may be alone physically. But we have the options feeling far from being lonely, if we choose to engage. During to the pre-coronavirus period, we could’ve surrounded ourselves with many people but yet felt lonely. Today we can’t surround ourselves physically with many people, but the power to not feel lonely in most cases is in our hands. We are alone but we don’t have to be lonely. A small caveat here—I could not imagine the pain and suffering a person has to endure when loosing someone dear to them. The sense of loss is overwhelming and real. I want to acknowledge that and give this feeling its valued place at the table. Moreover, I wholeheartedly hope that whoever feels lonely, please know that there are people who love you, who pray for you. Who wish you a refuah sh’lema- a full recovery (spiritually and mentally) from the pain and the sadness you are feeling.

Speaking of lonely- here again, I look into the Hebrew language for a ray of sunshine and a possible answer! The word lonely in Hebrew is boded בודד . The first part of the word means “in it” בו. But this time the letter daled, ד, appears twice!! We have two doorways. We have options. We have the possibility to enter into two situations, two options. Feeling lonely or not. In most cases, it is up to us! Which would you choose?

I do not wish on anyone right now the feeling of being alone. But presently, that is the situation. No doubt it is not our preference. You may very well be alone. Life circumstances can be such that right now no physical person is next to you. But feeling lonely is a choice.

A choice that we don’t have to choose. Here are some quick options for you to consider–pick up the phone and call a friend. Facetime, Zoom, or video chat with a long-lost friend, a faraway relative, or a family member living down the street. Join live dance classes, religious services, classroom learning. The possibilities are endless.

Or just pick up a book and have that as your company.

We all are alone, some of us more intensely than others. But we don’t have to be lonely. Or feel lonely.

May we all choose the company and the connection with others to be the food for our soul in these challenging times.

Yours truly,