The Almost Instant Antidote for Loneliness

318 words | 3 minute read


I don't remember where I heard it, but there's a story that stuck with me.

The story that won me over was some inevitably-butchered spin on the following:

And I paraphrase...

A bunch of ten year old kids are at camp for the weekend.

Circled up around the fire, overseen by Cate, the camp counselor.

The thick smoke drifts into a few girls sitting on the picnic bench. An outbreak ensues — wiggles, coughs and giggles.

All the various degrees of roasted marshmallows present, they decided to play a game.

Cate took the lead, "One thing you might not know about me is...I like my marshmallows burnt." 

Around and around, all the kids excitedly taking a turn.

"...I wear mis-matched socks...I have a pet turtle."

And so on.

Next evening again there's a fire and the game continues by request.

Cate calmly says, "One thing you might not know about me is...I grew up with a younger brother who had Autism. Kids would say "retard," around him and it really triggered me so I'd hold his hand. 'You're not alone' is what I'd say to him."


To her side, a little boy , "One thing you might not know about me parents are divorced."

To the left, "One thing you might not know about me is...For a long time I've had to have a special diet because I got sick."

...and so on.

Ordinary. Except for how it was done.

One moment of swelling grit spreading from one the next.

The mood: set and recognized. 

It's the next day and right in the middle of the final capture the flag tournament. The wooden stands held tiny spectators, the scene speckled with taller counselors, including Cate. All cheering for their cabins to take it home!

Out on the field, a ripple of rough play and a shout, "you retard!"

In the stands a ten year old boy takes the hand of the camp counselor beside him and says, "you're not alone."


You see, the truth is catching — it's a total turn on.

So is vulnerability.

It's exhilarating and scary because it's real.

I've learned that it's not about finding one singular truth or about being in agreement. It's about witnessing and being part of the raw nature of someone's heart. Together.

All it takes is one brave soul to ignite the fire of deep reflective honesty from within. Like dominos all members fall into the depth of their own hearts.

We see that our stories are less unique and isolated than we once may have believed. We realize we are less alone.

And we wonder if our sensations of aloneness are sometimes mirrored back by others as well.

So why this, and why now?


1. The Need for Expression:

As humans, we have this deep need for expression. To watch our voices land in the hearts and minds of those ready to hear.

I don't believe this need is negotiable. 

This was confirmed to me as I witnessed my Mom awaken from a coma — half paralyzed, her brain taunting her with what it might be like to no longer be able to express again.

I've been since fueled by an ethos I call "raw grit."

Which at it's core is nothing but a radical commitment to discerning what's real for me. And what of this needs to be expressed in the moment and what needs some more time in the old workshop.

I don't believe in limited honesty. 

But I do believe that we limit our capacity to express it.

This blog is my weekly "sit-up" in an aim to amplify (or at the very least, avoid atrophying) the “trust muscle” — which I consider to be no less vital than the ones around my core.

2. Empathy:

For my students. To have greater empathy and respect for their courage.

Their willingness to be on the front lines of the battles needed to undo the years of doing. 

To honor their own struggles by speaking the real things.

And for the spiraling nature of vulnerable truth telling. The subtle encouragement of seeing others get honest — and how that spreads globally. 

3. For an Experiment {And Trust Muscle Workout}:

Any amount of success I've achieved expressing myself honestly and with self-integrity has not been the result of strategizing perfection.

But my trust and availability to an ever-unfolding process.

Radical honesty to the moment.

And the ability to meet each new arising one, which meditation teaches.

Despite my resistance, the process hasn’t let me down.

And now’s the time to double down on that trust.