Recent tragedies, natural and otherwise, have had a galvanizing effect on our nation. In the aftermath of these transformative events, there’s a little less bickering, a little more caring, and a general sense of empathy for what others are going through. Despite all of this human connectivity, health experts from all across our country are warning about a new and equally dangerous threat to our humanity, loneliness.
Yes, that’s right, loneliness is now a very serious national health concern.
Despite all of our modern “connectivity,” Americans, and their children, seem to be more disconnected than ever before. Despite living in the most communicative country in the world, reported cases of loneliness have doubled since 1980. More concerning is the fact that in a recent study, more than 40% of American’s reported being lonely, and the research suggests that the real number may well be higher.
This would normally be the place and time where I would pontificate on how music connects kids in a very real and meaningful way. I would talk about how students involved in music have lower rates of risky behaviors associated with loneliness, i.e. drugs, alcohol, etc. I would talk about the physical, mental, and emotional bonding that goes on in a child’s mind and body as a result of their shared musical experience. Yes, this would be the place in the newsletter I would do all of that and more. That is, if I were talking about our students. But, I’m not. I’m talking about YOU!
The work you do can be all consuming, and demanding on a level that few other professions can rival. There is little time to spare and too much work to do. This, coupled with the ease of electronic communication (email, text, social media), leaves many of us without any meaningful personal interaction with our peers or other adults. Yes, you spend your days surrounded by a sea of humanity, teens and adults, but are doing so in emotional isolation from people who really understand what you do and can empathize with the challenges you face?
Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.
When I was a teacher I distinctly remember feeling this way on many occasions. I remember interweaving the hopes and dreams of my profession with the hopes and dreams for my life, losing a little bit of me in the process. I remember being at work before the sun came up and leaving after the sun went down, for weeks at a time. I remember feeling isolated while in the midst of a sea of teenagers, and I suspect that many of you remember feeling, or are currently feeling, the same way right now. I have always believed that a happy teacher is a better teacher, so it’s imperative that you make time to be happy.
So let’s do something to make us happy!
I am challenging you to meet up with a musical friend/colleague in the next 72 hours, someone who understands what you are going through and can empathize with your experiences. Too busy you say? MAKE TIME! Pick up the phone (NO TEXTING), call a friend, and meet for coffee. If you are willing, I am buying. Yep, that’s right! If you text me a selfie with a colleague drinking coffee, tea, a smoothie, or other beverage, I will respond with a gift card to cover the cost of the drink. I’M NOT KIDDING!
You can text me your selfie to (480) 577-5264. If you are willing, you can even tell me how it went and if it helped.
I don’t care which colleague you meet, or what you talk about. Just talk!I dare you to take me up on this. Please!
I am waiting to hear from you.
p.s. This event is not sponsored by Starbucks, but should be.
p.p.s. I reserve the right to limit this offer to a reasonable amount, should making my mortgage payment become a concern.