I spoke to a lonely friend this past weekend. So what follows is a PSA of sorts. I hope it helps.
I’ve been in a reading group with five friends for the past few years. We are an assortment of energy traders, consultants, lobbyists, beer mongers, and one Claremont communications director. During the past few decades we’ve discussed tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene indivisible, and poem unlimited.
It’s a lot of fun.
Book club was started out of a desire to take what began as group texts about human affairs—often in the crassest manner one might imagine—and turn it into a more noble, common pursuit. That’s not how we put the endeavor to ourselves, but that’s, at bottom, what it’s all about.
Over time, we have grown together and participated in one another’s lives. Children born, grandparent deaths, career misfortunes and success, serious health issues, all have taken place, and been worked through publicly, thanks to the book club.
Paradoxically, what is discussed is a distant second to the fact that we come together for discussion.
I see a lot of “book clubs” popping up these days. Most don’t involve books. I have a friend in a knitting group devoted to discussing politics; another wakes up at 4:30am and works out with like-minded sadists; another cleans up hiking trails with buddies on the weekend. As the bits and bytes of modernity bombard our inner sanctums, face-to-face activity and fellowship becomes more important.
If you are feeling adrift or alone, and find yourself wishing for community, then please know this same longing likely exists in your neighbor’s breast—so don’t be scared in seeking out new friends!
The digital world that threatens to envelop us is a fake world. It provides—I don’t care how Google or Facebook or Apple or Nike or Bank of America try to spin this—no human comfort. Flesh and blood, protracted contact is what’s needed. If you understand this, excellent. Now reach out to someone who could use a buddy.