The Antidote to Loneliness

I’m working outside this afternoon.

Photo credit: Kelly Burkhart

As the daylight hours get shorter here in the northern hemisphere, I find myself eager to soak in the sunshine while I can. Even as I write this, I think the birds and squirrels are on a similar mission, gathering in all the nourishment this season has to offer. 

I came out with the intention of doing some writing and here’s what I notice.

The ponderosa pines sway with the same wind that brushes across my face and tosses my hair. 

The plants I put in the soil years ago, that were watered by the summer rains, have produced fruits and seeds that nourish the birds and animals that frequent my yard.

The stems & leaves, once they dry and drop away, will be gathered for the compost that will feed next summer’s garden.

The warmth of the sun….. the glow of light through the leaves of the apple tree….. the conversations of the birds….. all manage to quiet my busy mind, soothe my rattled nerves and allow my breath to slow and deepen. 

Living closely with the natural environment soothes me in a way that nothing else can. But more importantly, it shows me, unveiled, what I need to know.

That I am not alone.

It reminds me that even though I exist in a separate body, live as an individual in this deeply individualist western culture, I am part of something much larger. As I watch the natural world it seems so clear how we’re all so deeply connected – bird and human and tree and squirrel, all nourished by the same soil and water and sunshine.

When I look out at the world around me with this kind of presence, this kind of wonder and awe and love, it is not the small, ego-centric, self-centered “me” that sees it all. That quality of presence and love can only come through me not from me. 

These moments are essential. They are a kind of daily sustenance. The innate conditions of living a human existence make it so easy to forget this interconnection and instead get caught up in what Eckhart Tolle calls the little me – the Ego, the over-identification with the self. 

For me, one of the antidotes is nature.

But there are many roads to the place of Oneness.

It doesn’t matter how we get there. It only matters that we go.

What reminds you that you are not alone?



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  1. Winnie October 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi Kelly, connections, as you wrote, that remind us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. I’ve been caught up in the pathos of the little ego this week (and even as I wrote that know that I need to be gentle when I say that); everything has been about me and my aloneness.

    For me, as much as nature, it is human connections I think since I have avoided them most of my life; remembering that I matter, that I am part of something much larger than myself.

    Something else … change, as with the seasons. This years fruits nourish squirrels as they prepare for winter, the dried stems of plants will mulch those that grow in spring. Autumn is also a time for letting go of old patterns, thoughts, ways of living that do not work anymore.

    Connections are what supported and then helped me climb back out of that bottomless well of ego-driven grief in which I was caught for so many days and am finally releasing.

    I also was reminded, forcibly, of HALT. Not to work so hard to be enough, that I lose myself. Lessons repeated, and repeated, but what joy remembering them again.

    I listened to these words in the Beth Chapman song, Angels by my side: “And everything will be alright, though change won’t be denied.”

    • Kelly October 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks Winnie. Isn’t it a huge support to know what helps return you to a place of connection? It sounds like your connection to people – both in person and through music was important. I’d bet that the struggles helped to open a door as well. Paradoxically, loss, lack, grief can often give us access to something much more profound: a universal openness & connection. I’m glad it found you!!

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