Garden at Giverny – Claude Monet 1895
If We’re All So Connected, Why are Our Kids so Lonely?
Our children are spending an increasing amount of time staring at screens. And a new study released in January found that children today are struggling with “loneliness or deep levels of unhappiness” as a result of the time they spend on the Internet. The experience of loneliness has always been a part of childhood, of course. But technology, which in some cases can connect children to others virtually, clearly also has the potential to aggravate and introduce new sources of loneliness.
Where can we go to understand the loneliness of childhood? Loneliness is a central theme of Francis Hodges Burnett’s classic, The Secret Garden. The book is a hymn to lonely children and lonely places, lost families and sparse friendships. In this most unhopeful of themes, Burnett gives children the brightest and most hopeful of alternatives, a garden, itself transformed by death and the loneliness of loss. Here is a place where the roots grow deep, and the illusions of what one is and what one has lost fade behind the real sights and scents of life allowed to flourish
Technology will be a part of most children’s lives, in useful (and useless) ways, but teaching children how to step away from their screens, and gravitate toward what can be felt and cultivated in the real world—where they might discover their own secret gardens—will reveal to them the difference between the beauty of stillness and the loneliness of isolation.
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
No Man Is An Island
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
John Donne (24 January 1572 – 31 March 1631 / London, England)
My wife and I just took our 11 year old grand daughter to Oahu for her birth day. We had a great time as did she. During the course of our stay we enjoyed an observation of our shuttle driver. He was amazed that people can get lost on an island. All you have to do is follow the coast line and you will end up in the same place eventually.
That brought to mind the quote that “No Man is an Island”, which is from a poem written by John Donne in the 1600’s. It also brings to mind two very different authors of the 20th century Thomas Merton “No man is an Island” and Earnest Hemingway “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
They are two very different books of two different periods. One a work of historical fiction and the other a work regarding spiritual growth and reflection. Each is considered a special work worth reading. Yes I read all three but too long ago to remember and too heavy to read again.
Suffice it to say that the poem by Donne is a good stepping off point for reflection on either of these books the authors and their life paths or our own.
One author found his path and succeeded to live a simple life as a Trappist monk. The other despite notoriety lead a life full of despair alcohol and depression.
“You cannot get lost if you keep going” My Shuttle Driver