Time Together Has Taken On New Meaning, Monday 30 March 2020

Time Together Has Taken On New Meaning

There’s been lots of good advice in the media about how to stay sane during this scary time, so I’m going to just focus on one area that I think may help us come out stronger on the other side which we will eventually get to. When the sun breaks through, the bands strike up again and crowds gather to hear them, we’re all going to have a different appreciation for what it means to be together with the people we love.

Some of us are actually alone right now, some of us are tucked in with a spouse or extended family. Some are in their suburban or country house, some in their apartment warrens. What I think we’re all experiencing, from daily or more frequent check ins with children, siblings, parents, friends, the Amazon delivery people, the neighbors we sing to from balconies or across the street, is the importance of these relationships in anchoring our lives.

It’s been a vast source of potential energy, now unleashed, for us to really understand what relationships actually mean – the feeling that even if you live alone, you’re not alone; that if you live with someone, time together has taken on new meaning. Todays New York Times features letters from people describing how they are adapting to social distancing. The loveliest, I thought, was the simple description by a retired couple of what they called the upside of social isolation – their newfound pleasure in sitting down together each afternoon to binge watch a series and have a glass of wine together. It was a modest, quiet, thinly veiled description of renewed intimacy and connection, just passing time in good companionship.

Too often in normal times we have to do things, check off lists and so forth – rather than just being. The trick to getting through this will be to feel satisfied with just being – literally just being – alive, being together, if physically apart knowing someone else is thinking about you and that you’re thinking about someone else who is thinking about you, and then making this connection each day.

If you can keep this in mind, the light at the end of the tunnel, it gives you something to practice now in the dark time. It will change the way we see each other for many years to come, long after this ends.

Dr. David Kahn

Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University, HDRF Board Member

March 23, 2020

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