I am currently reading a book series by Martin Walker. They tell the story of Bruno Courrèges , the chief of police in the Périgord area of France. He loves his village of St. Denis, his adopted hometown. Here he finds the love and support he didn’t have as an orphaned boy. One of his great loves is cooking and dining well. He is gourmand and I sadly am a daughter of American cuisine. My palate would be challenged by some of his meals. However, the food doesn’t need to be fancy to be shared.
Dining with friends is a central theme throughout the series. Bruno is known for his cooking in addition to his astute police work. Laughter, sadness, love, hopes and dreams are shared between friends and family around the dinner table. Farewells are said to friends lost through death. Now I realize this is a book and not real life, but I do know the importance sitting together with your family for one meal a day . It plays a vital role in our lives. It is the one chance each day we have the opportunity to focus on those most important to us. Dinner time is when a child might express concern or joy about something inparticular. It is when parents teach their children through discussion the importance of staying connected with what is going on in the world. It is clearly the time parents can share their values through simple conversation.
Dining with friends widens our network of support. We are reminded we don’t face life’s hardships alone and we don’t celebrate the goodness of life alone either. At the dinner table we learn to give thanks for the simple things in life and the importance having a strong network of friends can be. Americans though have a difficult time sitting down and dining. Dinner is often rushed take out. Everyone grabs their order then scrambles off to their private space in the house. I know time is limited and the author is very clever because he writes about Bruno doing preperations prior to his day beginning. It does take practice but if everyone shared the responsiblity (at the the husband and wife) then it wouldn’t seem like such a burden.
Americans don’t entertain friends much anymore either, at least most of my former friends didn’t. When I or the one other friend who entertained would invite people to share dinner in our homes, you would think we had given them an expensive and irreplacable gift. I agree the gift of friendship is irreplacable but sharing dinner doesn’t have to be. If you can’t afford to serve dinner to a group of friends, host a potluck. Or maybe host a dessert party, a make your own pizza party or an after dinner drinks party. The object is to come together for a time and shut out the rest of the world. Bruno, time and time again, finds the support and encouragement he needs around the dinner table.
I live alone and have allowed this to be my excuse for not cooking. Why cook for one? It is so much work if I am the only one who will be eating. Sadly I am teaching myself I am not worth the effort to make good food. A goal I have as I move on from this place, is to bring back the art of dining, even if it is only dining for one.
Do you know where you belong? Do you have a place that is home? I’m not talking about a house but a place where you feel totally accepted? A place where your heart finds comfort? A place where friends are family and family are friends?
I hope so because I can tell you not having a place to belong makes one heartsick. I thought I had found where I belonged but divorce cost me that community. Now alone, I am like a ship with no sails in the ocean of life. Ugh what a terrible metaphor but it describes how I feel.
I am not at home or comfortable where I went to high school and college. I’ve been gone almost 34 years and I only lived there for 8 years. My finances greatly limits where I can go buy even if I had unlimited resources, I don’t know where I’d go.
What makes you feel at home? What makes you feel accepted, part of the community? Do you have friends who are family and family who are friends? What brings you comfort? What makes you call your place home?
Do you make the assumption everyone has friends? Do you think their lives are busy and full? Do you ever take the time to speak to someone new? Do you choose to stay in your comfort zone and not reach out?
Did you know that every 12.3 seconds there is one death in the US by suicide? The truth about suicide How many more try and fail? How many times will someone try before she succeeds? Will any care he is gone?
Anyone that has contemplated or tried suicide isn’t thinking clearly. You think you are. In your warped mind it all makes sense. The tragedy is that it is never the right or best choice.
For so many of us who battle depression, isolation and loneliness the simple act of reaching out can mean the difference between the will to go on and the desire to end it all.
Smile more. Say hi more. Call your friends. Check in with people whom you haven’t heard from lately. Let them know you care. Make a difference.
Yesterday I received a survey from Austin Trail of Lights asking me about my experience. There was one question asking who I came with and how many people there were. They had one HUGE error. There was no selection for anyone who might have gone alone. It was assumed that to go you wouldn’t go alone.
I find this mentality is pervasive in our society. Even when you go online to book a room at a hotel, it is automatically set to 2 people. Restaurant hosts look at you odd when you say just 1. The movie ticket booth isn’t any different. I’ve taken to buying my tickets online to avoid the odd stare.
There is a difference between being alone and lonely. I was lonely when I was married. Even though someone shared my bed, my home, my life it was hollow and empty. I wasn’t alone but I was desperately lonely. I don’t mind going places alone. I have traveled alone because I didn’t want to wait to see places and experience new things. That being said, I do get lonely. It’s not easy making friends especially at this age. I have no home which means no neighbors. I have no children in school so no classmate parents. I don’t have a spouse’s co-workers or a job of my own with co-workers. Churches aren’t generally friendly places. I know they like to think differently but typically there is nothing more than a nod or a quick handshake. Very few are willing to go the extra mile and reach out.
I pray I don’t spend the rest of my life alone but I can guarantee you either way I won’t be lonely.
I have started so many blogs and inevitably let them fall to the wayside. I shouldn’t do that. At one time I had acquired over 1,000 followers. Now I realize it’s not 50,000 or enough to sell advertising on my blog, but to think 1,000 people might be interested in what I have to say shocked me. Then one day my depression took over and I stopped writing. I am going to expand on one of my favorite posts.
Have you made a new friend lately? There is so much attention being given to our need for a good solid support system of people whether they be family or friends. Over and over it is being emphasized that we live longer and happier lives when we have those people in our lives. But what happens if your support system falls apart. Maybe you got divorced. Maybe you moved to a new city. Maybe you go a new job. Maybe you left for school. Maybe your financial situation or health situation changed and you could no longer join in all the same things you used to do. We are a transient society. Three-fourths of all American move on average of every five years. I am sure some of those moves don’t completely turn your life upside down but my guess it most of them do.
Since to my divorce I have been forced to face a hard reality and the worst part is I already knew this truth because I moved a total of 4 times in 6 years. That meant 8 schools in those 6 years. So I had just forgotten how difficult it is to make a friend. People don’t seek out new friends. Most of us make friends through reoccurring meetings of either work, school, church etc but we don’t actively seek to make friends.
Initially that seems okay and in general it is unless you are the new person or the person with a life altering transition which removes you from your comfort zone. It is then you realize how much on the outside you are. What do I mean? While there are a few super friendly types, most of us wait for the other person to ask us to join them. We don’t try to include ourselves for fear of being pushy or not being wanted or not fitting in.
The people who are already in a circle friendship are unaware that they are excluding anyone because they are preoccupied with their own sense of comfort and staying in that comfort zone. They have forgotten what it’s like to be new or facing a new life challenge.
It’s difficult making friends. I am not sure it’s easy for anyone and it’s certainly not easy for someone who is shy or insecure or hurting. As the world hustles along and people are busy interacting, they fail to recognize those around them in need of friendship.
Many of you will be thinking, these people should just come along or ask to join in but when you are on the outside looking in, it’s not easy. You fear being rejected and not wanted, so it’s easier just to stay alone.
How simple it would be if each of us just tried to make one new friend. To speak to one new person a day and ask one new person to join us for lunch or a drink each week. The best friend you might ever have could be out there and because we tend to look only forward with blinders on, we miss so many people who could add dimension and meaning and joy to our lives.
If we were walking in the garden, I would tell you how good it feels to have company, to not be alone for another 24 hours.
If we were walking in the garden, I would bring you up-to-date on my job search. You would learn I received another rejection with the same lame excuse. We have decided to move forward with another candidate. When I ask for specific suggestions, they give no feedback. I listened to NPR the other day and the entire broadcast on my way home was about the fact age discrimination is real and active in the job market. So where does that leave me at almost 56?
If we were walking in the garden, I would ask for a hug because now that I no longer live with my daughter or near my other daughter, I am completely hug deprived. I always told my girls you needed 10 hugs a day to be happy and healthy,
If we were walking in the garden, I would thank you for taking some of your day to spend with me because we know we make time for what we feel is important. If your friends aren’t spending time with you, contacting you or remembering you even in a small way, you know your friendship is not important to them.
If we were walking in the garden, I would ask would you like to take a walk again on another day>