title: AW Episode 33: The Rejection of Loneliness
show: Adventures Within
description: After looking forward to an entire weekend of solitude and doing nothing only to experience unexpected and significant feelings of loneliness, a state of being or emotional response that I claimed to rarely encounter, I spent an entire week indulging in loneliness and, by the end of the week, I got the flu. As discussed in a New Republic article, "The Lethality of Loneliness," by Judith Shulevitz, psychobiologists have now proven that "long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you." Steven Cole, a leading researcher on the biological pathways by which social environments influence gene expression, asks "why we would have been built in such a way that loneliness would interfere with our ability to fend off disease: 'Did God want us to die when we got stressed?'" It is a predominant belief amongst many that each human being comes into the world alone, travels through life as a separate person, and ultimately dies alone. Loneliness then becomes an inherent human condition. But according to this new research in gene expression and the molecular processes, we are learning that we are actually fluid, porous creatures and that "the world passes through us." Loneliness, therefore, is not an essence of being human but, rather, a public health crisis. To quote poet, W. H. Auden: “We must love one another or die.” But moving beyond a state of loneliness and realizing our fundamental connection to the world is not as easy as one might think. Robert's lonely playlist. Background music: Lowlight by Rosie Tucker.
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