Playing well with others

Recently I did an article on a senior daycare that clearly is making a huge difference in the lives of participants. The CEO called it an “adult day center on steroids,” and he wasn’t exaggerating. The men and women who spend their days at the center get to do everything from the treadmill to bingo to karaoke to the Wii – and several of these folks are in their 90s. (See the article, here.) What impressed me most about this center is how every single person is positively thriving thanks to the basic fellowship they experienced there. The “joiner types” have people to bounce from, play with, chat up. The loners have something to do that takes them out of the house and into society. Even those not entirely “with it” seem content simply to coexist in the company of others.

My afternoon there made me realize that at some point in our lives, we are going to forget about the trappings of polite society, the 80 things on our to-do lists and the right ways to behave. Instead we will wake up, take a deep breath and enjoy the fact that we have one more morning on this earth. We will relish the sacred comfort of just sitting with another soul while we pass the time, instead of being compelled to entertain said soul.  Even the most solitary of people will appreciate such basic camaraderie.

All of this got me thinking about writers, many who consider themselves to be these solitary towers of higher thought. Often introverted and more comfortable behind a computer screen than at a cocktail party, we often keep others at arm’s length. Some of us, daresay, maintain we don’t even like being around other people that much.

But writers, too, benefit from getting out and being with others. Even if we’re forcing ourselves, it makes us better people when we interact with others, and when we’re better people, we become better at our craft.

So loner writers of the world, do your solo thing. But once a day, step away from that cocoon and go grab some java at a coffee shop. It’ll do the heart some good.