Today has me thinking about belonging, which not coincidentally is the title of the Rachel Remen essay I read this morning.
“Not only have we disconnected from life, but many of us have disconnected from each other as well. Such qualities as self-reliance, self-determination, and self-sufficiency are so deeply admired among us that needing someone is often seen as a personal failing. A hundred years after the end of the frontier we still inhabit its culture. Self-sufficiency was critically important where you lived a hundred hostile miles from your nearest neighbor. We live in this way still, three thousand to a city block. Needing others has come to require ann act of courage. Is it surprising that so many people are secretly afraid to grow old?”
Perhaps nowhere is the “hundred years after” described better than in John Prine’s “Hello In There,” a song (like “Sam Stone”) that is such a downer so as to make it nearly impossible to listen to – like listening to a train wreck from a distance.
“You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “hello in there, hello.”
So if you’re walking down a street sometime
And spot some ancient hollow eyes
Please don’t just pass ‘em by and stare
As if you didn’t care
Say “hello in there, hello.”