Most of us have seen abandoned houses on country roads and city streets. There is something tragic about those unkempt places, those buildings that surely still hold the memories of people who once lived there, yet now, are no longer physically connected.
And because there is no physical connection, and the place is left alone, it falls into disrepair.
It’s the same with people left alone.
The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.–Mother Theresa
In fact, did you know that loneliness can kill you?
Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or made worse by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer—tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.
“Real loneliness is overwhelmingly painful, disintegrative, and paralyzing. It represents a blocking of the fundamental need for personal intimacy, and it originates in pathological object relations in infancy and early childhood. Psychotherapeutically it is difficult to discern real loneliness because the patient cannot communicate it verbally and is frequently unaware of it, and because the more prominent symptoms of hostility and anxiety mask it”– Psychiatry. XXII, 1959: Loneliness. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. Pp. 1-16.. Psychoanal Q., 28:572-573.
Personal intimacy is the key here. A person can be in the middle of many people, but without a connection to any one of them, he can feel lonely.
Lonely house, lonely me
Funny with so many neighbors
How lonesome you can be
——Langston Hughes lyrics, Street Scene
Street Scene (Philadelphia, 1946) was the first opera of Kurt Weill’s American period (he himself defined it as an «American opera»). Influenced by both the Broadway musical and jazz, it features recitative, dialogue, arias, ensembles and songs. The libretto is by the politically engagé playwright Elmer Rice, who based it a play of his own that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929. The lyrics are by the black poet Langston Hughes. The action takes place outside an apartment block in a poverty-ridden district of New York. The block’s inhabitants are the core figures of the different tales that make up the harshly realistic plot, which is deeply pervaded by social criticism and comes to a tragic ending.
The piece is sung here by my talented grandson, Carl Hellmers, a student of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, a major research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. Here’s another wonderful piece by Carl, too. https://youtu.be/lDueGFut9A0