Richard Stride commentary: Considering ‘all the lonely people’ — and ourselves

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Two songs came to mind as I thought about the isolation we have all experienced in the last almost two years. One is the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” and the other is “Here” by America.  

The lyrics for “Eleanor Rigby'' are particularly compelling: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”  

The song goes on to describe the lives of two people, Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie, two people that no one notices. The song by America is a little more optimistic as the lyrics tell people who are experiencing loneliness to not give up: “This is for all the lonely people, thinkin’ life has passed them by. Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup, and ride that highway to the sky.” 

The second refrain tells those who think that love has passed them by to not give up and ends with “you never know until you try.”  

Even though many pandemic restrictions have been lifted, some still face loneliness. Although loneliness is nothing new, it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. No one should experience loneliness, but they do. We do. The question that loneliness asks is, do you see me? Do you care? Or perhaps you are the lonely one. Are you wishing others would see you? 

My wife received a card one time. The handwritten message simply said “I see you.”  As I contemplated what the message meant, I realized that the writer was simply saying, “I see you for you.”  

That’s profound.  

It’s profound because we don’t see people for who they are, nor do people really see who we are. Because we are not truly seen, or for that matter understood, we are lonely. As humans we long to be seen, to be appreciated, to be cared about. If no one cares, we don’t care either. 

One thing I’ve learned about myself and about other people is that we long to be seen for who we are. Not who we think we should be, or what others want us to be, but just simply for who we are.  

We all need to hear the message “you are spectacular for just who you are.”     

If you are one of the lucky ones who has tons of friends, let me challenge you to see beyond the skin colors, the genders, the ethnicities, the body types and the sexual orientations. To really see someone, we need to, we have to, we must, move beyond our often wrong first impressions.  

My mom was a nurse. Most of her career, she worked at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. For a time, she worked at a nursing home. For many years, on Christmas Eve my sisters and I would pile in our white Rambler station wagon (if you are not sure what a Rambler station wagon looks like, look it up) and travel to the nursing home. We would walk up and down the halls, going room to room, singing Christmas carols. Nevermind that my mom and I were the only ones who could carry a tune. We did it anyway. We would all try to sing over dad. He tried, but he was really, really bad at singing. But he loved to sing. My mom would tell us there are people at the home that no one comes to visit. That made me sad as a child. The lesson was clear. Reach out to others, see people and let them know you care. Later in life, as a teenager, I would go to the homes just to visit.   

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”  

The fact is they are all around us. If you are one of the lonely ones, don’t give up. 

“You never know until you try.” 

If you know someone, or believe someone is lonely, reach out. People have amazing stories. 

You may just make a new friend.  

In this new year, please, please remember, you are spectacular! Other people are spectacular!  Be who you are — not what others expect you to be. 

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Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at drstride@icloud.com.

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