Those who know me know I am a huge fan of live theater. Maybe that is why I woke up this morning with a song from the Sondheim musical, Into the Woods, stuck in my head. It could have just been that I was missing my evenings at Broadway in Chicago performances, but my analytical mind read more into it. You see, the song I was singing was
"You Are Not Alone," performed in the musical by the character of Red Riding Hood as she finds herself lost and seemingly alone in the woods.
As I thought about the song and why those particular lyrics would be going through my mind, I realized how relevant they are today, during this COVID-19 pandemic. Just the title itself, You are not Alone is reassuring during times of social distancing and, loneliness and isolation. When diving deeper into the words behind the song, the lyrics fit today's situation so well.
"Who can say what's true? Nothings quite so clear now"
With mixed messages and rumors pouring forth from our television sets, who can say what's true. It has gotten hard to decipher the facts from the rumors. There is fear. There is confusion. Plans are changing day by day and even minute by minute. Life seems more uncertain than ever. Many people are experiencing a jumble of thoughts and feelings similar to what Red Riding Hood was experiencing in the vast dark wood. Yet the song does not end there. It continues with the lines:
"Feel you've lost your way? You decide, but you are not alone. Believe me, no one is alone (no one is alone). Believe me truly."
While we are separated from each other physically, the lyrics remind us over and over that no one is alone. It led me to think about how it is possible that we can feel connected without giving hugs, shaking hands or, perhaps, without even seeing anyone's face. Many are talking about this unique opportunity to spend time with family while we are hunkered down together at home but what about those who live alone? And we talk about the benefits of things like Zoom and WebEx which allow us to see faces of friends and be together while physically separated, but what about those without fancy equipment and video capabilities? Is there a way for them to stay connected as well?
When faced with that question, I stand by the words of Stephen Sondheim, no one is alone. There are ways for all of us to connect. NAMI is making it as easy as they can by offering free call in options for Drop-in Center discussions, support groups and Living Room Services. Nothing but a phone is required for that. You can put a smile on someone's face by pulling into their driveway and honking your horn. When you see them look out the window, hold up a cheerful sign with cheerful pictures or words of encouragement. You can touch a heart with no contact involved.
The good old-fashioned postal service is keeping people connected as well. For the cost of a stamp you can brighten someone's day. It doesn't have to be a $5 card from Hallmark or a masterpiece you created with $20 in craft supplies. It can be a note scribbled on a scrap of paper, a few words of encouragement or just a simple 'I'm thinking of you.' If you really want to get fancy, leave batch of wildflowers on a porch to brighten someone's day.
I leave you by repeating Red Riding Hood's profound lyric one more time:
"Believe me, no one is alone (no one is alone). Believe me truly."
Written by Nikki Rashes, CRSS