There’s nothing I value more than the closeness of friends and family, a smile as I pass someone on the street.Willie Stargell
Despite the recent mandates to stay home, my personal life hasn’t change drastically. This may come as a surprise because I try do a lot of activities. Nevertheless, most days are like my current days: I work from home, I’m with my kids, and I spend time with my husband. My prayers haven’t changed much. As always, I’m praying for protection from the seen and unseen. I’m praying that God will have mercy on us and I’m thanking Him for His blessings. It would be a lie if I didn’t say I’ve been frustrated and confused. However, at the same time, I’ve had time to think more deeply about two concepts that I hadn’t as much before. The two concepts are social distancing and essentialness.
When I first heard the term social distancing, I assumed it was some new millennial lingo that I wanted to avoid. However, according to Wikipedia, social distancing is defined as a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other. Yet, when I heard the term I had so many other thoughts of what it could mean. The 6 foot rule is one thing, but social distancing also implied to me a fracture in how we interact. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. Human interaction is vital to life. Prior to the mandates, I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook of ” The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness” by Dr. Kelli Harding. I recommend that you read this book because it gives a great synopsis of how our interactions with others and various aspects of our lives effect our health. One chapter that stood out to me and echos in my head ,now more than ever, is the chapter on social ties. In this chapter, Dr. Harding reviews the various ways that social interactions positively affect our health and longevity. Cultures that have been known for their thriving social connectedness were also know for their longevity. Social connectedness is essential. That ties into the other concept I’ve been pondering, essentialness. When going to pick up groceries, I see blocks of storefronts emptied because the businesses were deemed non-essential. Although non-essential for today’s situation, those business were the epitome of being essential. They were the places where social connectedness happened. They were coffee shops where friends would meet to chat after work. They were salons, barbershops, and spas where people not only groomed, but discussed the latest topics. They were playgrounds which gave children joy and allowed young friends to reunite when classes were out. They were the places that held funerals and wedding. I’m not debating whether they should or shouldn’t be closed. I am just highlighting that these places were and are essential. Places where people can connect and feel like vibrant parts of community are essential. It’s when those bonds are broken that we see the effects on a global level. We may see it today or tomorrow, but down the line we will see the importance of social closeness. I will not negate the usefulness of social distancing when used appropriately. Nevertheless, I don’t want the importance of social closeness and connectedness to be ignored as we weigh the pros and cons of any situation. There’s no wonder that as i looked up the definition for this post, I saw that Wikipedia was trying to change the term social distancing to physical distancing.
P.S. No blog can be written during this time without acknowledging the health professionals that are putting everything on the line to help people be well and keep our hospitals going. We also can’t forget all the people who are also putting everything on the line like: our postal workers, law enforcement, fire men and women, cashiers, delivery men and women, childcare providers, mechanics, drivers, and other essential personnel.