People need each other. We connect with a smile, a hug, a handshake. During the pandemic, we lost these connections to social distancing, masks and isolation. The loss may make us sad, but as the writer Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times notes: “Loneliness is unhealthy. It increases inflammation, heart disease, dementia and death rates – but it also simply makes us heartsick.”
Here are some ways that we connected to relieve our pandemic loneliness: We met as new neighbors, decided to get some exercise, and to get to know each other. We walked together twice a week through the woods down our dirt road. We chatted across the road with masks on. We chuckled as we often asked each other to repeat that last sentence. We laughed about past escapades and also about how our bodies don’t cooperate as well in the present.
Here’s what we learned: We found the contact incredibly rewarding. We continue to foster this discovery and our new friendship. We also learned that connecting has many forms: perhaps a simple nod and a smile to a stranger, or an invitation to sit together on a bench and chat.
The mission of Creating Connections is to develop these spontaneous, positive encounters. You can find our history on chaclaplata.org. As things open up, connections are still important. Won’t you join us?
Patricia Senecal and Peg Kimple