Everyone should learn to live alone. Family households do not last long these days. Spouses are separated by careers, divorce, and death. Children leave home for school, jobs, and marriage. Retirees abandon work and professional involvements.

Without planning it, people find themselves living alone.

Family is given, but friendship and community must be created. Even when daily life is crowded with inevitable connections we should cultivate voluntary companionships. You do not have to be lonely when you are living alone.

Religious affiliation can provide rich social interaction. “Faith families” include sisters and brothers working together in worship, education, and charitable activity. Mutual care and consolation is provided when loneliness, illness, and distress occur. Mobility weakens these associations, however, as families and individuals move to other places for jobs and education.

Fortunately, Americans have a long history of social organizations bringing people together for worthy causes, less obviously religious. From masons to odd fellows, Rotary and Kiwanis, veterans clubs and political support groups there are a wide variety of organizations for members to work together and socialize. Many arts and civic institutions need volunteers and hobby fans share projects.

Loners might be happy away from others but most of us need companionship. Reading is good, but taking and listening are better. At the least we should periodically dine, play or see games, and enjoy performances with friends. Humans are social animals.

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