Letter to the Editor

'SAD to the Bone'

Monday, November 18, 2019

George Thorogood and the Destroyers had a great song released back in 1982. Do you remember "Bad to the Bone"? These days, however, the title that reflects the lives of over 40% of us is "SAD to the Bone." Despite the progress and prosperity of the last few years, more and more of us complain of loneliness, sadness, despair, doom and gloom. Studies show that we in Iowa and the Heartland are more prone to the debilitating effects of isolation and being alone/feeling lonely. Complicating matters is the phenomenon known as "seasonal affective disorder." That would be SAD. Shorter days, longer periods of darkness, overcast days with little or no sun wreak havoc with the sufferer's emotions and stability. It is definitely real!

We've gone from all the "heartache" songs for which country music is famous, to living lonely, feeling alienated and having little to look forward to. Henry David Thoreau talked about "leading lives of quiet desperation." For many, it is not a matter of choice, but more of circumstances. You might be surprised to know how many widows there are among us. For them, life took some very difficult turns, unexpected predicaments or pathways of pain. They may be aware that there is life outside their four walls, but don't have the strength or resolve to join the mainstream. This can be due to illness, lack of socialization, mental illness or a host of other reasons. They live in our neighborhoods, down the street, out in the country. Meals are a solitary affair. They lack joy and camaraderie, and thus are sometimes overlooked or devalued. "It's no fun to cook for just one. The kids live so far away, I seldom see them. Their lives are so busy." And on and on.

Fortunately, places such as the Grand Avenue Community Outreach and several local churches have evening meals to share, at no charge. The Grand Avenue Community Kitchen is open for a hot meal each Monday, Thursday and Saturday from 5-7 p.m. In a perfect world, the availability would result in greatly reduced hunger and feelings of loneliness. In our current world, we know that all who could benefit do not partake. Perhaps transportation is a problem. It might also be difficult for the elderly to be out and about after dark. Maybe they have few friends, or do not belong to a church.

As we enter the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, winter awaits us. A good way to fully enjoy the festivities and spiritual meaning of this special time would be to look around and see if there are folks in your close surroundings that may be able to benefit from the meals described if only you or some other concerned person would reach out to them and offer to see to it that they have a ride. Enjoy the meal with them. Be a true neighbor. Be the person you'd like to meet if you were in their shoes. Demonstrate the "Iowa Nice" we tout proudly!

― Bill Kersting, Spencer