Raymond Garlick was fond of saying 'Man is the measure of all things'. This popped into my mind today, like an e-mail from the past.
I was in the garden when it happened. I was allowing it to float about when a neighbour stopped to chat. She's always seemed busy and active but surprised me by saying she often felt a gnawing loneliness. Yes, she had friends, family living away, but she felt an emptiness.
Without talking about existential 'angst', we decided that sometimes life falls a little flat before picking itself up again. When she'd gone, I began mulling.
Writing in the C17th Thomas Hobbes decided in 'Leviathan' that life was 'solitary . . . brutish and short'.
Most previous generations have not had the luxury of wondering if they felt lonely; they had to do and endure, with no time for introspection.
Although being alone is different from being lonely, large families in the past meant a lack of privacy, yet there were compensations. One report says that those who move more than fifty miles from where they were born are less secure than people who see their families often.
T.S.Eliot's said that 'Hell is oneself/ Hell is alone'. This could be a problem now that people will have to wait longer for their pensions, but not necessarily. Studies show that many pensioners fade away when they retire. Employment is not just about money but social groups and perception, one's own and others people's. Work confers identity.
Retirees have the unfortunate tag 'pensioner' appended, as though they have reached the final full stop. A seventy year old, in employment, does not have that nomenclature.
The skill is to see life as on-going. Peter Ustinov, once told he must feel very satisfied with his life's work,commented he always looked to the next project, hoping for improvement.
Dylan Thomas wrote that the world : 'Spins its morning of praise' and it's that vison that gives life its meaning and helps us connect with what is around us.