There’s No Shield Against Loneliness

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Loneliness is empty, hollow, a panicky void, and depression. 


It’s like being in the ocean and feeling so small in its massive depths…almost like drowning. 


In the end, you are alone in the universe. 


No one can truly feel your pain or joy or experience all of you.


You’re a world unto yourself. 


You connect and form relationships with others–there is learning and growth and love and caring in that. 


Talking and reaching out and being part of someone and something washes away parts of those scary feelings and creates a greater purpose of being and meaning. 


But there is also silence and solitude and the darkness of the night. 


And in that there is just the faith in G-d Almighty. 


He alone is what comforts us as we stare into the vastness out there as well as the evil and loss that we come face-to-face with and combat in life. 


The soldier girds his sword for battle and carries a shield to protect himself.


But there is no shield for the loneliness we experience in life and ultimately in death itself. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Sexless Generation

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Oy vey, the statistics are not good. 


Sex in America is on the decline (and no, this is not an April fools’ joke)!


Based on this who can argue with President Trump that we need to “Make America Great Again”–and that should include sexual vitality along with military might, economic competitiveness, and social justice.


In the early 1990 and 2000’s , Americans had sex on average about 60 to 65 times a year.


Moreover, for married couples, who are at the high end of the sexual spectrum, this is down from 67 in 1989 to just 56 times a year now.


This is a reduction of 9 , which doesn’t sound like much–however that actually comes to 14% less nookie!


And geez, that’s less than once a week! 😦


What’s weird is that the statistics show that Americans working longer hours and watching more pornography actually is tied to a “busier sex life.”


To me the obvious answer is that people are living too much in a virtual world of loneliness and nothingness. 


And they have lost touch with each other in the real world and have become more selfish and less giving personally and sexually. 


So while some people are busy infighting and infatuated with reading and generating all the fake news these days, it seems like they are missing the real disheartening and unloving American news of the times. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

On The Train Of Life

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My beautiful daughter, Michelle, forwarded this wonderful message to me about our journey through life, and I wanted to share it with everyone.


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Life is like a journey on a train…
with its stations…
with changes of routes…
and with accidents !

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We board this train when we are born and our parents are the ones who get our ticket.

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We believe they will always travel on this train with us.

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However, at some station our parents will get off the train, leaving us alone on this journey.

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As time goes by, other passengers will board the train, many of whom will be significant – our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life.

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Many will get off during the journey and leave a permanent vacuum in our lives.

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Many will go so unnoticed that we won’t even know when they vacated their seats and got off the train!

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This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, good-byes, and farewells.

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A good journey is helping, loving, having a good relationship with all co passengers…and making sure that we give our best to make their journey comfortable.

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The mystery of this fabulous journey is:
We do not know at which station we ourselves are going to get off.

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So, we must live in the best way – adjust, forget, forgive and offer the best of what we have.

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It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to leave our seat… we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.”

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Thank you for being one of the important passengers on my train… don’t know when my station will come… don’t want 2 miss saying: “Thank you.”

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Should We Care What Others Think?

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So I was talking with someone and they were telling me how self conscious they feel about what others think of them.


They said when they were in school, they were picked on, bullied, labeled, and made to feel different and excluded.


Whether it was their hair that was different or their lunchbox that got taken and hidden from them, the other kids were relentless. 


Now in life, they are still dealing with all those feelings.


Do they look right? 


Are they educated enough?


Is their profession something others will admire them for?


And on and on. 


And at a certain point, I said, “Isn’t it more important what you think about yourself than what others think about you?”


And they said, “Sure, but I still feel like I have to live up to other people’s standards. I don’t want them to think bad about me or talk behind my back!”


I understand this way of thinking is based on trauma from the past and feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in. 


And we can spend our whole lives chasing this illusive acceptance from others. 


Or we can decide to pursue we what believe in and love, and to find healing in the good we do, rather than the nods or winks from others that we receive. 


If we are trying to live up to somebody else’s arbitrary standards of perfection, cool, or being in the in-crowd, we may never be good enough.


Instead, if we pursue what we know is right from our moral compass and our heart and soul, and always do our best, we will attain the satisfaction that comes with healthy self-development and maturation. 


Seeking unconditional acceptance and love can definitely leave you feeling frustrated, self-hating, and even quite alone. 


But accepting yourself, developing yourself, and giving to G-d and to others will always leave you feeling fulfilled. 


Forget living as if your in the fishbowl, and strive for the Superbowl of achievement through incremental progress and goal attainment in your life. 

Start with making yourself proud and the others will come around. And if for some reason they don’t, it’s truly their deficiency and loss and not yours!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You’re Wealthy Nuts

Wealthy

So Bloomberg Businessweek has a really funny article about all the wealthy people that need to go see shrinks. 

Get this–overall wealthy people are cursed with “Affluenza” (not influenza silly) and have “elevated levels of depression, anxiety, psychosomatic issues (physical symptoms from stress), and self-mutilation.”

Some specific reasons they go for mental health help:

Why Me–A trying issue to deal with is their guilt feelings about being so darn rich, while others are starving, homeless, and can’t make ends meet. 

Feeling A Little Lonely (And Hated)–They can’t help thinking that perhaps people only like them for their money.

Aimless In Life–What’s the purpose of their lives if they are living on easy street, don’t have to work, and can buy their way out of trouble. 

Money To Mess You Up–Some people have so much money, they can squander it on bad investments, but also on alcohol, drugs, sex, and so on.  

Fear Of Losing It All–Terrible thing about having so much money is you have to worry about losing so much money.  

So next time you are thinking about protesting against the top .1% who have as much as the bottom 90%, have a heart because the wealthy have a lot of problems too. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris Goldberg)

Homesick or Heresick

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It’s funny, my dad used to tell a joke about not being homesick, but being heresick (wherever that “here” may be for somebody–they just want to get out of there)


Recently, at work though, I have found there are many people that don’t want to go home at the end of the day–and it’s not because they always still have so much work to do (although sometimes certainly they do). 


Yesterday, I asked someone at work–on New Years eve–what they were still doing there late in the day.


Someone with a fairly new baby at home, jokingly winced at me, and said something about it sometimes being better to stay a little later at work, because when he/she gets home, they start all over again with the spouse and kid(s)–like so many of us. 


It’s strange to me, because I love and value home. 


And it’s like the old rhetorical question about do you work to live or live to work. 


Just yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a book review about someone who opined about how home is where the heart is–and in anthropological terms–it’s always been that way!


Home is our sanctuary, for ourselves and our beloved family, it is where we are “king of the castle,” and where we do everything from shelter, comfort, reproduce, share, and generally love and care for each other. 


Yet, back to work, many people these days don’t want to go home to crying babies and dirty diapers, nagging spouses and the evening fights, encroachment on private spaces, and errands galore (it’s a 2nd job almost)–cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and bills–or even just plain loneliness there. 


So people hang out at work–they schmooze, they snack, they Internet, they may go to workout, or they dilly and dally–just so they don’t have to go home. 


As someone recently said to me, “It’s quiet. I like it there. Nobody bothers me there.”


They are homesick–not missing and yearning to be home, but some almost to the point of sick at the thought of going home. 


Work or anywhere else then becomes a refuge from the home that home is supposed to be. 


Sometimes it’s just a temporary thing at home, sometimes it’s more ongoing or permanent.


Everyone has a different home–for everyone it should be a true home. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s With The Best Buds?

Best Buds

I never quite understood the best buds t-shirt wave.


This is especially the case when the person is alone and there is no best bud anywhere to be found. 


We are all social animals, and perhaps, we all wish to have a best bud in our lives–someone to “buddy around with” and who knows and understands us, and unconditionally accepts us. 


Best buds seems to almost be able to read each others minds and finish each others sentences…and they laugh hysterically together about these mindless things for which apparently only they get it. 


When best buds are together, it’s like they are almost in a bubble of their own world, and everyone else is on the outside, if they even exist to the buds at all. 


That’s because bests buds are it–they have history, they share things in common, they think alike, and they work in tandem.


It’s like getting two for the price of one: they are Batman and Robbin, Tonto and The Lone Ranger, Cheech and Chong, Laverne and Shirley, Simon and Garfunkel, and so many other couplings that stick together like peanut butter and jelly. 


If you have a best bud then you already know you don’t need to give them a t-shirt to spell it out–the chemistry already says it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Can You Love A Robot

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Pew Research reports that by 2025, “Robotic sex partners will be commonplace.”



While I certainly understand loving (new helpful) technology, actually making love to a machine is taking things a little too far.



Even with great advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a robot can be nothing more than an artificial partner…a humanoid is not a human!



Despite portrayals in the movie Her (2013) of a nerdy writer who falls in love with his life-like operating system, the reality of human and machine love is more a desperate call for companionship and understanding than a real connection of equals–physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. 



While a computer may be programmed to say the things you want to hear, to laugh at your jokes, and even to succumb to your advances, love cannot be programmed or even artificially learned. 



The complex dynamics between two real people locked-in the emotional roller coaster of life with its ups and downs, pulling together and pushing apart, of shared experiences, challenges, and conflicts, can only be met head on with a best friend, soulmate, diametric opposite, and at the same time congruent equal. 



Only another human being can love you and be your love.



A machine, however beautiful designed, charming, and learning of you, can be just a poor surrogate for the sad person screaming out for connection in a large lonely world. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From The Window In the Nursing Home

From The Window In the Nursing Home

I visit the nursing home pretty often to see my mom who is there.

While I try to focus on my mom and her needs, I do notice other patients there.

The images are deeply impactful on me…here are ten that are on my mind today:

1) The husband and wife who are both in the home in a shared room–the wife is wheelchair-bound and the husband dutifully pushes her around the floor. This weekend, I saw them together at the nurses’ station asking for some crackers. When the nurse came back with some individually wrapped crackers in cellophane, the couple took them and went off down the hall happy as clams.

2) The lady at the table who is overweight, but always asks for more food. She doesn’t talk much except to ask for more dessert. She stares at the other patients and seems annoyed and upset with them.

3) The guy who was a lawyer, but now has dementia, and sits and talks half to himself and half trying to engage others, but all that comes out is sort of gibberish. So others just nod or say something to politely acknowledge him, but can’t converse with him with any meaning.

4) The lady in the room who sits in a chair hunchback. She never seems to leave the room or the chair. Sometimes, she watches TV and other times appear to be crocheting. Mostly she sits hunchback, looking uncomfortable, but settled for the long hall like that.

5) The woman who sits outside her door in the hallway. She is in a wheelchair, and she doesn’t say anything, but she stares at you while you walk down the hallway. She sits there watching–sitting and watching.

6) The younger but still old disheveled guy. He comes into the dining room to eat, but gets food all over himself. He sits alone, always. He eats quickly, leaves half his food, and gets up and goes out while everyone else is still picking away at their food.

7) The lady with a wall of baseball caps. She has no hair, maybe she has cancer, I don’t know. She usually is in bed, sitting up. The caps look like they have a lot of meaning to her, but I’m not sure if it’s because she’s a sports enthusiast or why.

8) A lady in a wheelchair that pulls herself along down the hall. She puts one foot in front of the other in these baby steps motions, and the chair moves along, slowly, but at least she is mobile, somewhat.

9) This weekend, I looked out the window of the home, and there was a woman on the sidewalk. She had fallen on the ground, on her butt. Her walker was next to her, but she could not get up. Some people were near here, apparently trying to get help, but not wanting to touch or move her themselves. I ran for the floor nurse, and she came to the window to see. She said is that so and so, which meant nothing to me, and then she ran off to help her get up.

10) A lady sits downstairs by the glass windows–she is dressed up fancy like older healthy people are want to do. Next to her is an older gentleman in a turtleneck, but he is just visiting and is her son. They seem to be sort of wealthy as they sit upright in the high-back chairs and discuss family and what she’s been eating at the home. They look askance at some of the other patients who are crying out in pain.

The nursing home, like the hospital is a horrible place to be, even when you have to be there.

In both places, even the most caring doctors and nurses and attendants, cannot make up for the fact that you are a prisoner of age, failing health, and disability–and let’s face it, even if many are nice or attentive, not everyone is.

I am still unclear why people must suffer so–why we haven’t found a better way to end good, productive, and loving lives.

I am not sure that people are really even focused on this issue of old age, because it’s not sexy, it’s at the end anyway, and “they had the chance to live their lives.”

Maybe, it’s because we simply don’t have the answers yet, can’t afford what they would take, or we would just rather not deal with mortality, pain, and suffering when there are so many other things to do.

But one day, we all will face the piper–and it would be comforting if we had better answers.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Loneliness Is A Scream

Loneliness Is A Scream

One of the scariest things for many people is not being with other people.

I don’t mean intentionally not being with others–taking time away from the hustle and bustle for yourself–but rather being left alone.

Think of the horrors of POWs kept in isolation, prisoners put in solitary, or just everyday kids icing out other children in school, adults marginalizing colleagues at work, and family members abandoning spouses and children at home.

Elizabeth Bernstein makes the distinction between being alone (a potential voluntary state) and loneliness (when you feel that you are forced into an isolated state) in the Wall Street Journal today.

It’s an awesome article that explains so much about loneliness:

– We all experience loneliness from “homesickness, bullying, empty-nesting, bereavement, and unrequited love.”

– Loneliness can occur when you are without anybody (“isolation”) or with the wrong somebody (“dissatisfaction”).

– It’s a survivalist function and evolutionary to feel scared when your alone, because when you are “too close to the perimeter of the group, [then you become] at risk of becoming prey.”

– Loneliness is also associated with memories or fears from childhood–when we were young and vulnerable–that someone wasn’t there or going to be there to take care of us.

– Too much loneliness is a “strong predictor of early death”–greater than alcoholism, 15 cigarettes a day, or obesity.

– Loneliness is on the rise, with “some 40% of Americans report being lonely, up from 20% in the 1980’s” and this is correlated with more people living alone, now 27% in 2012 versus 17% in 1970.

– Loneliness can be placated by “reminding yourself you’re not a [helpless] child anymore,” building emotional health and personal self-sufficiency, doing things you enjoy when alone, and reaching out to connect with others.

She jokes at the end of her article that when we aren’t feeling lonely, we are annoyed that people just don’t leave us alone.

This is a very real concern as well, especially with a multitude of family needs (significant others, young children, elderly parents), 24×7 work environments, and the reality of pervasive online communications and even invasive social media.

Not exclusive to introverts, too much people can make us feel put upon, crowded, and even worn out–and hence many people may even run from excessive social activity and crowds.

Yet without a healthy dose of others, people can literally go crazy from the quiet, void, boredom, as well as from the real or perceived feelings that they are in some way unworthy of love or affiliation.

So even though some people can be annoying, users, or try to take advantage of us, no man is an island, and growth, learning and personal serenity is through degrees of love and connection, for each according to their needs. 😉

(Source Photo: here)