“I bet our neighbors are jealous of our sidewalk,” my husband commented.
Dan and I added on and refurbished our home last year. Before they would approve our permit, the brilliant city planners required we put in a sidewalk. At our expense.
Here’s the thing you need to know: We live at the end of a lane that turns to gravel. Four driveways veer off the gravel, and none of our cul-de-sac neighbors have sidewalks.
Hence, our sidewalk that connects to no one, to nothing.
Side thought: The city requires all residents to keep their sidewalks shoveled when it snows for obvious safety reasons. I wonder if we’re required to shovel our sidewalk to nowhere??
But I digress.
During the widow years, I got pretty comfortable living alone. Hiking in-town and wilderness trails alone. Road trips alone. Friday date night alone.
But—and this is the weirdest thing if you know how much I love people, and love being around people—after getting comfortable with aloneness, a dinner party invitation could make me a little anxious.
Here’s a thing: The more we isolate, the easier it becomes. And the easier it becomes, the more comfortable it feels.
But we don’t want to get comfortable in isolation.
For the first time in my life, I understood how someone with a tendency toward being a recluse got that way.
And then along came Dan and we got married and now there’s a husband to love and care for, and converse with, and watch movies with, and take road trips with, and cook for, and hike and snowshoe and camp and fish and kayak with, and …
… a man to share a sidewalk-to-nowhere with.
Deep and true connection.
Staying connected is critical on so many levels. I recently read about a study that suggests a lack of human interaction was found to be more harmful than even obesity and smoking (National Academy of Sciences). That’s astonishing if you think about it.
And then there’s an American Cancer Society study that suggests social isolation can contribute to depression, insomnia, and cognitive decline.
Connecting with friends can find us laughing, crying, or venting. When these emotions are expressed, it causes our brains to release dopamine and endorphins, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters.
And then there are all those ‘one another’ verses in the Bible that describe the spiritual benefits of togetherness:
- Love one another – John 13:34
- Build up one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
- Rejoice or weep with one another – Romans 12:15
- Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18
- Encourage one another – Hebrews 3:13
We were designed to live in community—to love and be loved, to comfort and be comforted, to encourage and be encouraged.
A friend recently posted this quote:
When you connect with people who are good for you, you feel it. This is a big deal. Don’t forget to acknowledge how great it is to be around someone who lights you up. Tell them, even if you feel a little weird. Your people love your weirdness. – Author unknown
One of my goals for this year: To tell the people who light me up how great they are.
(Another goal is to figure out how to use our sidewalk so the cost won’t feel so needless, unreasonable, inequitable, excessive, unwarranted, unjustifiable, indefensible, unnecessary … I’m not bitter or anything.)
Marlys, this is fantastic! Thank you!
Thank you for your kind words, Kathleen.
Patti ann Ridgway
We are meant for community….so many good nuggets here!
We do tend to hunker down and “go inside” not only literally but figuratively as well when life gets challenging. And that is the most unproductive thing we can do.
I am so grateful for my faithful “family” and the prayers, fellowship and faith we share to life each other up!
Your messages are a light as well Marly! ????
Good word, Patti. I am grateful, as you are, for my people!
This just in from someone who shared this blog with a friend who shared it with her daughter: “[My daughter] says if she had a sidewalk to nowhere, she would make a garden on each side so it would then be a pathway for the garden. Just an idea.” ????
And what a great idea!
A sidewalk is a wonderful place to use colored chalk to post slogans, make a hopscotch game, write Bible verses. Since you don’t have much traffic on yours, these writings will last.
Brilliant ideas, Judith! I have colored chalk and the next time the grands come over, we’ll make a masterpiece on the sidewalk … at least until the next snow covers it!
Thank you for this article. I am a blessed person. I live in a neighborhood where people
Truly care about each other. Last year after spending two months in the hospital I came
Home to my loving kind and caring neighbors. My next door neighbor Dick who is 90 today
Brought me a hot homemade meal ever Thursday Eve. My next door neighbor whom I pray
For are so kind She calls me often and tells me she loves me. She lets me pray for her. My neighbors
Caddy corner from me take my trash out every Wednesday They are precious and I go to the pool
With her. God is so wonderful So the point is get to know your neighbors. They are God’s gift to you
Great point, Katie. We have wonderful neighbors nearby!
Oh, years ago went through the same thing with the city when we were building. We had to do a sidewalk and it was the only one on the street for 5 blocks.
You feel our (expensive) pain, Eileen!
Dear Marlys, “ tell people who light me up how great they are”, well, your beautiful gift of writing lights up my life. My husband and I enjoy reading and discussing your sentiments. You are a gift to so many!
Such kind words, Diane. Thank you.