Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Power of Peeps

We all know that life happens at turbo-speed. How many times have you asked yourself, “Where did this week go? This month? This year?” We're so busy getting through the day that we don't always take time for what's most important to us.

Recently I called a friend who I haven’t seen since June. Just hearing his voice made me smile from ear to ear, and sent my spirit soaring. He is a dear friend of mine, in fact, one of my favorite people on this Earth. He lives about 45 minutes away from me, and it occurred to me that I haven’t seen him in almost a year.

And it’s not just him. I have a flock of fabulous friends; some live down the street, some across the country. I don’t see them or talk to them nearly as often as I need to. But hearing my friend’s voice made me realize that one of the reasons for the decline in my dynamo is the fact that I have become, much to my horror, anti-social.

It appears that my unintended isolation could have unintended health consequences. Several studies have shown that people with more friends live longer than those with fewer friends. Cancer survivors with a strong social support system feel less pain, deal better with treatments, and have increased survival rates than those who don’t have such support. Loners who don’t have a network of friends have a higher chance of not only succumbing to the common cold, but also of being stricken by more serious illnesses.

I am not a loner by nature. I love the company of family and good friends, and although I value “alone time” on occasion, I prefer social to solitary; relationships to reclusivity. The fact that I’ve had an introverted inclination lately has to do with a lot of different things; bad weather, too much work, crazy kids schedule, and, if I’m going to be honest… a bad habit. I’ve gotten used to being alone. I work from home, and that’s a perfect excuse to hang out in my sweats, bypass a hairbrush, and curl up on the couch with my laptop.

The fact that I have my laptop gives me a false sense of social status. All my friends are on Facebook! I can see them whenever I want to. I know where they went on vacation, how the weather is in their neck of the woods, and even what they had for dinner last night! I know what kind of haircuts they’re sporting, because after all, I see the newly-posted photos of their newly-primped coiffures. It’s practically like we’re in the same room... except that it’s not.

The feeling of friendship isn’t there like it is in person. That chemistry that can only be created when people are close enough to touch; the way a friend can see into your soul when you need them to most; the peace that washes over you when you hear the laugh of someone you know you can trust with your life. Those are the things that are missed online, or over the phone. Don’t get me wrong… Facebook, email, and the telephone are better than nothing and I’m grateful to have them. But it’s just not the same thing as looking into the eyes of someone who loves me, despite the fact that I hang out in sweatpants and don’t always brush my hair.

So now that the weather is warming up, it’s time for me to come out of my cocoon. I have a feeling that, as my social life emerges from hiding, my mojo won’t be far behind.