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Column: Reach for the Inspiration Waiting to be Shared!

By Stuart Adelberg

The Surgeon General recently issued an advisory linking loneliness, isolation, and the lack of social connection to illness and premature death. The advisory noted, for example, that isolation can increase your risk of heart disease by 29%. Most of us know that human beings are wired for social connections and the benefit they provide in terms of our health and well-being. But I was shocked to read that isolation, loneliness, and the lack of social connection are becoming an epidemic.

This is a very real and troubling situation for millions of people. There are those who sadly lack personal connections – due to the loss of loved ones, emotional and/or mental health issues, physical constraints, etc. These people need and deserve our empathy and support. No one should have to cope with life all alone and I would never diminish the seriousness of the issue. We also understand that individuals can experience loneliness even when surrounded by other people.

But I believe that social isolation and the lack of connections is, for many of us, a self-inflicted wound. I see examples every day of people making choices and engaging in intentional actions that lead to isolation instead of taking advantage of the myriad opportunities that could provide enhanced social connections.

Last week I heard about someone who spent buckets of money creating a space in his home equipped with an audio system enabling him to listen to a recorded symphony with all the nuances of a live concert. I am not passing judgement, and we are all free to enjoy culture in the manner that best suits us. But this individual has chosen to artificially recreate a symphonic concert, forgoing the opportunity to experience the real thing in a community setting less than ten minutes from home. Perhaps he doesn’t know that our professional orchestra, the Greenwich Symphony, offers world class concerts with internationally recognized soloists in the Performing Arts Center at Greenwich High School with acoustics that rival some of the world’s most famous concert halls.

How many of us have installed enormous televisions in our “screening rooms” with resolutions so high that we can see the plastic surgery scars on our favorite actors’ faces, while listening to surround sound systems that literally shake your entire home, all so we can watch streaming movies in privacy, and avoid the social aspect of experiencing the latest films in a theater?

A few days ago, while taking my typical afternoon walk, I encountered what I thought was the perfect Norman Rockwell moment. I saw two people, that I was certain were a father and son, walking in the park together. Yes – to myself, I murmured, “Aw!” But as soon as the walkers got close enough for me to get a better look my bubble completely burst. These two seemed totally oblivious, not only to each other’s company, but to the beautiful plantings, scenery, and sounds of the park around them. Each of them was looking down at their phones, not speaking or sharing a moment, but focused instead on something completely private on their little screens.

I believe the Surgeon General’s advisory on loneliness is accurate, but for many of us, the cure is well within our control. Shut the TV, turn down the audio system, take off the headset, put away your phone, grab a friend and reach for the inspiration around us that’s waiting to be shared! Just think of all the critical services we can provide for those who are truly isolated and alone with the dollars we won’t spend on all that unnecessary equipment! Everybody wins!

Stuart Adelberg has had a long history of leadership and involvement in the nonprofit arts and human services communities throughout Fairfield County. Never known to be shy with his opinions, he loves having the opportunity through the Greenwich Sentinel to share his thoughts!

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